When adults have moles that start to grow, itch, or bleed it is time to make an appointment to see a board certified dermatologist. Men and women in Cape Cod, MA and the surrounding areas can find caring physicians at DermASAP in Plymouth and Quincy. We provide skin cancer screenings and are happy to examine moles that may be of concern. When necessary, we may recommend mole removal. In addition to removing potentially cancerous moles, some patients consider removal when they believe the growths are unattractive or they rub against jewelry or clothing.
Almost every adult has a few moles. However, some types of moles increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. These types of moles include:
- Atypical moles – They may look like melanomas. The risk of skin cancer increases if people have four or more of these types of moles. If patients had melanoma, or their parents, brothers, sisters, or children in their families have had melanoma, they may be at higher risk of developing it. Atypical moles are often larger than pencil erasers, are oddly shaped, and are multi-colored (a mixture of tan, pink, red, and brown). They can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the head, scalp, or neck. Some people may have familial atypical multiple mole-melanoma syndrome; meaning they have more than 50 moles with some that are atypical.
- Congenital moles – Roughly, one out of 100 people are born with moles that vary in size from small to large. Larger congenital moles increase the risk of developing melanoma.
- Spitz nevi – These can closely resemble melanomas and are often pink, raised, and dome-shaped. They may contain different colors, such as brown, black, or red, and may bleed or have openings that ooze.
When patients are having moles removed for either further examination or for cosmetic reasons, they have two options available: shave removal and excision. Both are effective at removing an unwanted mole, and each has their own benefits and disadvantages.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. One person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Spitz nevi are types of moles that can closely resemble melanomas. They are pink, raised, dome-shaped, and may contain different colors, such as brown, black, or red. In addition to resembling the color of melanomas, spitz nevi may bleed or have openings that ooze. For these types of moles, we may recommend shave removal treatment. This procedure can be ideal for moles that are raised and in an accessible location on the body. After numbing the area with local anesthesia, we use a specialized blade or scalpel to shave the moles. There are no sutures necessary which can offer optimal aesthetic results.
If there is a high potential of moles being cancerous, excision surgery is often recommended.
Similar to treating skin cancer, we remove the moles after the area has been numbed with local anesthesia. Due to the depth of the incision, sutures may be required.
If a mole is raised and is in an accessible location on the body, the team at DermASAP may suggest shave removal. This is when a specialized scalpel or blade is used to shave a mole flat after the area has been numbed. It does not require stitches and therefore, provides the best cosmetic result. However, because the entire mole is not removed, it can reoccur later.
Removing the entire mole may require excision. This cuts out the entire mole in a similar way in which it would be removed for skin cancer. The doctor will go deep into the skin to ensure all of the lesion is removed, and this may require stitches. A scar may be left behind with excision surgery, but there is no chance of the mole reappearing as the entire lesion has been removed in full. Excision is recommended when a biopsy of the mole is strongly suggested.