Moles are common skin growths. They are usually brown, black, pink or fleshed colored and can occur anywhere on the skin. They can be flat or elevated above the skin; dome shaped or pedunculated. Almost everyone has at least a few moles, with an average ranging from 10-40 a person. Moles appear when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. Most moles are harmless, but melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can develop in, near a mole, or on regular skin. It is important to be able to recognize certain warning signs. If a mole appears to change (for example, darkens in color or grows in diameter) or a new mole appears, it should be examined immediately by a dermatologist, such as Dr. Davis. Not all moles that have changed will need to be removed. Sometimes a mole can merely become irritated. However, if a mole does need to be removed it will be sent for analysis at an outside laboratory to find out whether it is benign, dysplastic (irregular), or cancerous.
How are moles removed?
Most moles can be removed without stitches. Dr. Davis will inject lidocaine (a numbing medication) into the skin beneath the mole using a tiny needle. Even on delicate areas, this should hardly hurt. The anesthetic, itself, has an ingredient added to make the injection still less painful. After just a few minutes the skin will feel numb and Dr. Davis will test to see that the area has become anesthetized. Dr. Davis typically removes a mole by tangentially excising it (or “shaving” it flat to the skin). The specimen removed is sent to a dermatopahtology laboratory for examination. After the mole is shave-excised in this manner, Dr. Davis will apply agents to stop any bleeding and use a hyfrecator to seal the wound and begin scab formation. It is important that you do not pick at the scab.
Some moles will need to be removed with stitches
If the pigment in the mole is deep, then a different surgical technique is used to remove the lesion. If the lesion is small (generally a few mm in diameter), a sterile cookie-cutter type unstrument called a “punch” can be used to remove a cylinder of tissue containing the mole. The entire specimen is sent to a laboratory for diagnosis. Generally a few sutures are used to align the upper skin for closure. Dr. Davis uses self-absorbing sutures and no visit is necessary for their removal. Larger moles with deep pigment will need to be excised with a scalpel and closed with a layered closure. This means that Dr. Davis will first place several sutures in the deeper tissue, and then a second row of sutures are placed on top of the skin surface for closure. Again, Dr. Davis uses absorbable sutures so that no return visit is necessary for their removal. The specimen is sent to a dermatopathology laboratory for diagnosis.
Most surgeries will heal with a minimum of care. We direct you to apply a topical antibiotic in most instances and to keep the site clean.