While most benign lesions don’t require treatment, sometimes they can cause discomfort and may interfere with daily task. Most moles and other blemishes are benign however, some moles will change over time and can become cancerous, so it is always best to get advice from your plastic surgeon if you notice a mole that changes in appearance.
Most procedures to remove moles are done in the office using local anesthesia and only take about 60 minutes. Once a mole has been removed typically it does not grow back, although this is a potential risk.
The surgeon will discuss all treatment methods prior to the procedure.
Excision: The most common method of removal is to cut out the entire mole along with a margin of normal skin to include its base. This will remove the the full depth of the mole and the wound is stitched. The specimen is sent to a lab to check for cancer. The scar is usually a fine line although it can sometimes be more noticeable due to size of the mole and how individuals heal (genetics plays an important role).
Laser: Usually used for pigmented flat moles that are brown/black in color. This method of removal may require repeated treatments (approximately 1-3) before the mole is gone. Light from the laser usually does not penetrate deeply enough to use this method on raised moles.
Shaving: A combination treatment that uses electrocautery and shaving to reduce the appearance of protruding moles. Mole shaving does not remove the root of the mole, so there is no excision scar, however there is a chance it will grow back over time. This procedure is most commonly used on protruding moles in areas that do not heal well with excision (nose).
Electrocautery: Usually used for removing skin tags. It is a procedure that uses heat to burn the mole off, reaching only the superficial layers of the skin (so scarring is not a problem). Multiple treatments may be needed (approximately 1-3)
Excision: After the procedure, most patients do not need pain medication, but if necessary, an over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol should be adequate. Patients can return to most of their usual activities almost immediately including showering and shampooing after 24-hours. Working out should be avoided for the first 48-hours. Steri-strips will be placed over the incision after the procedure and we recommend keeping them on for 2-3 weeks to help with healing. Sutures will dissolve over time, on occasion, some patients will need to have them removed in about a week.
Laser: The treated moles will appear red for a few days and then the spot will scar over and eventually fall off. It is important to let the scab fall off naturally, do not pick at it. Working out should be avoided for the first 24-hours. Sunscreen should be used daily.
Shaving & Electrocautery: The area will be covered with a band aid following the procedure, keep the area dry for 24 hours. After the first 24 hours, you can wash normally with a mild face wash and apply a Vaseline to keep the area moist for a few days. Working out should be avoided for the first 24-hours. Sunscreen should be used daily.
As with any cosmetic medical procedure, results vary from patient to patient.