Mole Removal for Skin Health: When Is It Necessary?


Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lee Hwee Chyen

MBBS MRCP (UK) FAMS (Dermatology)

Mole Removal for Skin Health: When Is It Necessary?

Introduction to Moles

Moles are common skin growths. They typically appear as small, dark brown spots and are caused by clusters of pigmented cells. They may be flat or raised. Although usually harmless and often requiring no treatment, moles may develop into melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer, in some cases.

Indicators for Mole Removal

The following are key indicators that a mole should be evaluated by a dermatologist who specialises in skin cancer detection, and potentially removed:

  • Symmetry Analysis: A mole that displays a lack of symmetry, where one side doesn’t mirror the other in aspects like size, shape, or colour, should be assessed.
  • Edge Inspection: Moles with edges that are not smooth – showing irregularities, blurred lines, or notches – need attention.
  • Colour Consistency: A variety of colours exhibited within the same lesion in a mole, incorporating different shades such as brown, black, red, white, or blue may be a sign of developing melanoma.
  • Size Monitoring: Special attention is needed for moles that exceed or are equal to the size of a pencil eraser (6mm in diameter).
  • Tracking Change: Any noticeable alterations or evolution in a mole over time, including changes in size, shape, colour, or height, as well as the onset of new symptoms like bleeding or itching, should be checked.
  • Pain or Tenderness: Moles that become painful, tender, or sensitive to touch should be examined.
  • Location: Moles in areas that are prone to irritation or friction, such as under the bra strap or belt, might be removed for comfort.
  • Personal and Family History: Moles that exhibit changes in individuals who have a personal or family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, should be evaluated by a dermatologist specialising in skin cancer detection.

Mole Removal Procedures

There are various surgical techniques used by dermatologists to remove moles, each suited for different types of moles. Your dermatologist will assess the mole and decide which method of removal is most suitable depending on the type/nature of mole, and if there are any features suspicious for malignancy.

Surgical Excision

Involves cutting out the entire mole along with a margin of surrounding healthy skin, followed by suturing the site. Typically used for larger or potentially cancerous moles.

Shave Excision

This method involves numbing the area and shaving raised moles down to the level of the surrounding skin. Stitches are not generally required.

Laser Mole Removal

Utilised for smaller, flat, benign moles, this method uses concentrated light beams to break down the mole cells. It may require multiple sessions.

Risks of Mole Removal

Although mole removal is generally a safe procedure, there still are potential risks and considerations:

  • Scarring: All mole removal methods carry a risk of scarring. The extent of scarring depends on the mole’s size, the technique used, and individual healing processes.
  • Pigmentation Changes: The treated area may experience changes in pigmentation, either becoming lighter or darker than the surrounding skin.
  • Recurrence: A mole may recur after removal, especially if it is not completely removed.
  • Pain and Discomfort: Some discomfort, swelling, or redness is common after mole removal, usually subsiding within a few days.

Benefits of Mole Removal

Preventive Measure Against Skin Cancer

Atypical moles have irregular shapes, uneven colouring, or other unusual characteristics. They can sometimes be precursors to melanoma, a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer. When removed, the risk of developing melanoma from atypical moles is reduced.

Reduction of Skin Irritation

Moles that are raised or located in areas where they are prone to rubbing against clothing can cause discomfort. Removal of these moles prevents repeated irritation or trauma to a mole, which can lead to inflammation or even infection.

Improved Personal Hygiene

Moles in hidden areas like the underarms or groin can hinder personal hygiene practices. Their removal facilitates easier cleaning and grooming, contributing to better overall skin care and hygiene.

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