Human skin is adept at developing moles, as virtually everyone has at least a few. Most moles develop in early adulthood before the age of 30, and the average person has between 10 and 40 moles on their body. The clinical term for a mole is nevi.
Most moles are harmless, but some, called dysplastic moles, are precursor lesions of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It’s important to watch for changes in your moles, especially if you have a family history of melanoma.
Whether they need to come off and be tested, or whether you’re simply tired of looking at them or catching them on clothing, we can remove your moles at Remington Laser Dermatology Centre.
What Are Moles?
Many growths can develop on the surface of the skin either in childhood or later on in life. Most lesions are completely BENIGN (non-cancerous) and removal is strictly for cosmetic purposes. Although people normally refer to them as moles, there are a variety of unwanted growths that can occur on the face or body. The most common type of lesion is an intradermal nevus (IDN) which is an elevated dome-shaped mole that appears on the surface of the skin. Other common lesions are fibromas (benign fibrous tissue), angiofibromas (benign fibrous tissue with blood supply making it red), sebaceous gland hyperplastia (SGH) (enlarged oil glands), seborrheic keratosis (SK) (pigmented, warty-type growths that often appear to be “stuck-on” to the surface of the skin) or skin tags. Some types of growths are easier to remove than others, but most are amenable to removal with the Ultrapulse Co2 Laser.
Lesions on the chest, upper arms and shoulder always have a much higher risk of developing a scar simply due to the location. With constant movement in those areas, the body tries to protect itself and develops more scar tissue. At times we will encourage you to simply leave these lesions in place.
Causes Of Moles
The melanocyte cells give your skin its color. These same cells are responsible for those moles across your body. When melanocyte cells grow in clusters rather than being spread across the skin, that is a mole. Moles are usually brown or black and can grow anywhere on your skin. Thanks to their melanin, moles can darken with sun exposure and due to hormonal changes, such as during puberty or pregnancy. Moles can change over time, developing hairs, becoming more raised, even changing color. When those changes in height, color, size, or shape occur, that’s when a mole could be transforming from being harmless to a potential future melanoma.
What Are The Signs I Need To Watch For With Moles?
Although most moles are benign, occasionally they can be a precursor to melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If a person has over 50 moles, he or she is at a greater risk for developing melanoma. We like our Remington Laser Dermatology patients to know what to watch for with their moles, so if your mole exhibits these signs, please call us.
Watch if the mole:
- Is larger than six millimeters
- Itches and bleeds
- Changes color, size or shape
- Has multiple colors
- Is located where it can’t be easily monitored, such as on the scalp
Do I Need To Remove A Mole?
As mentioned above, we all have at least a few moles. They’re typically harmless, and you don’t need to do a thing about them. But most of us, short of the famous American model Cindy Crawford, don’t like seeing moles on our faces or other high profile locations. Also, some moles are in just the right spot to continually be brushed by clothing, which can make them sensitive or even bleed. We can take off these cosmetic nuisances at Remington Laser Dermatology.
Those are voluntary mole removals. If a mole is displaying signs of change, they need to be at least thoroughly checked, and likely removed, as they could be a future melanoma.
Candidates For Mole Removal
If you don’t like the sight of a mole, or if it’s bugging you, odds are you’re a great candidate to have it removed. The procedure is simple and quick. But it can leave a tiny scar. This is usually just a small white patch on the skin. Still, a tiny scar is far better than a dark mole.
In most cases, removal with the Co2 laser results in an excellent cosmetic result. There may be a slight elevation that remains as we try to remain superficial so as not to leave an indented scar. Other lesions such as SGH, have a 3-dimenseional shape that can leave a small indentation as the oil gland shrinks. As the laser cauterizes as it cuts, there is little or no bleeding following the procedure and no sutures are required resulting in the best possible cosmetic outcome.
In all cases, but especially with dark colored moles, there is a small chance that there may be some residual pigment that is visible once the lesion has been removed. Most times the area will be flat and there will some pigment that remains, similar to a flat, dark freckle. Once the area has healed, this can be removed with our QX MAX laser This laser does NOT cut the surface of the skin, but rather shatters the remaining pigment allowing your body to naturally remove it.
Mole Removal Before & After
Can Moles Grow Back After They Are Removed?
Moles that are completely removed won’t grow back. But sometimes when a mole is excised not all of the mole cells are removed. That mole can grow back.
Risks Of Removing A Mole
These are superficial, minor procedures. The laser instantly cauterizes as it cuts away the mole, so there isn’t any bleeding and the risk of infection is very low. The possibility of having a small white scar after your mole is removed is really the only risk. These scars are small and are far less noticeable than the mole was before it was removed.