A mole is a raised area of the skin that is often discolored and in some cases--unsightly. Often referred to as Nevi, a mole to some is considered to be a beauty mark. Famous figures are also known for a mole on their face, such as Cindy Crawford and Marilyn Monroe. For many, a mole is not always accentuated--it takes away from natural beauty--especially if it is on the nose or near the eyes. Having the mole removed will improve appearance and test for skin disorders and cancer.
One of the most deadly forms of skin cancer is melanoma. This type of cancer can strike any one at any age, but is more prevalent in those with increased sun exposure, fair skinned individuals and those who have a family history of skin cancer. Melanoma often takes its shape as a mole or Nevi in disguise. The mole slowly begins to change shape, color and size. Easily recognized by its dark color and irregular appearance--melanoma can also create a bloody discharge. Any sore that doesn't heal on the skin could also be a sign of skin cancer. Although melanoma is a dangerous form of cancer, it can easily be treated if caught early. A questionable mole or skin discoloration should always be removed or biopsied to rule out skin cancer. Melanoma that is left untreated can result in the cancer spreading from the skin to other vital organs--often quite quickly if it is not caught in time.
A mole should never be removed at home or by someone who is not a licensed professional. A family practitioner should be the first contact to examine a questionable mole. Even if the mole does not meet the visible criteria for melanoma, it should still be examined by a physician who can then make a referral to cosmetic surgeon if needed. While some physicians will easily remove a mole in a doctor's office, others will send patients to a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Many insurances will not pay for mole removal based on cosmetic reasons--the physician's referral will assist in having a claim successfully processed as opposed to denied.
Types of Moles
Many moles are actually abnormal blood vessels that show up through the skin. Hemangiomas show up as bright red raised skin bumps on the body of fair skinned people. Although a harmless condition, many wish to remove these bumps as they are unsightly. Keratoses are benign spots on the skin that are commonly called age spots. Keratoses appears as people age and is usually first recognized on the hands. Freckles are often mistaken for moles and are typically found in clusters on the skin. Some freckles can actually turn into moles and develop a raised bump appearance. Some dysplastic moles can grow hairs in the center making them very unsightly and as the skin ages the mole may double in size.
How a Mole Is Removed
A mole can be removed in the safe and sterile environment of a physician's office. Whether the physician is a dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon or general practitioner, he should be board certified and knowledgeable in skin care. First, the physician will examine the mole and determine if it needs to be shaved off or cut out. A mild anesthetic is used for the shaving method. A shot of lidocaine or another topical anesthetic is administered and the mole is shaved right at skin level. For a skin mole or questionable skin area, a scalpel is used to dig and cut out the area. In both cases, the mole and surrounding tissue will be sent to the lab for biopsy and further testing. A band-aid is placed over the shaved area or stitches are used to close the skin after scalpel mole removal.
The recovery process for mole removal is fairly short. For a shaved method, three to five days should be enough time for the skin to heal. A band-aid may have to be worn for the first 24 hours as bleeding can occur. A scab will eventually form and should not be picked at--this will assure a smooth skin surface. For a scalpel method, following up with the physician as to when to have the stitches removed will assure in a successful recovery. Generally, one to two weeks is a typical recover time frame for scalpel mole removal recovery.