There’s nothing unusual about moles on the body – in fact, moles are quite common. But many people aren’t happy about the number of moles on their body or some people need to have suspicious moles removed for medical reasons. At Reno Sparks MedSpa in Reno, NV, we understand that mole removal can be for aesthetic or medical reasons, and we’re happy to help you learn more about what you can expect from this treatment.
How Long Does Mole Removal Take?
In general, mole removal is done on an outpatient basis with a simple office visit that will take about one hour to complete start to finish. Many dermatology experts consider mole removal to be a routine treatment for most patients. There are several techniques that might be used to remove an unwanted or suspicious mole, but the most common is to simply excise the mole from the skin.
The first step of your treatment will be to treat the area with local numbing agents to ensure your comfort during the treatment; the numbing agent will be given several minutes to activate. Then your dermatology expert will remove the mole, a process that will take about 10 to 20 minutes. After the mole is removed, your skin may need to be stitched and dressed before you can go home.
Will You Need a Consultation?
Yes. Because of the relationship moles have with skin cancer, it’s imperative to have a consultation before you can remove a mole. A consultation will allow your skin experts to gather information about the mole, including photographs, measurements, and sometimes even a biopsy for a mole that is symptomatic.
Your consultation will also include gathering information about your family history, your general health, and your skin care practices. Be sure to include all relevant information, including how often you wear sunscreen and any activities that may cause skin damage, such as sun tanning, tanning beds, or having sunburns in the past.
What Techniques Are Used for Removal?
The technique used for your treatment will depend on the type of mole you have, the location of the mole, and the size of the mole. If you are removing multiple moles, this may also inform the technique used for your treatment. Your dermatology expert will use the best technique for your concerns.
As a general rule, removing a cancerous mole is a bit more complicated than a non-cancerous mole. For a cancerous mole, the most common treatment method is Moh’s surgery, which is a special technique that allows your dermatology expert to remove cancerous cells while also preserving healthy skin. Moh’s surgery may or may not occur after a biopsy. Malignant and benign cancerous moles can be treated with this method.
For non-cancerous moles, the general concern for your skin is cosmetic and the moles are also easier to remove. A less intensive process will be used for your mole removal, including some non-invasive techniques. The two most common non-invasive techniques are cautery (burning the mole off) and cryosurgery (freezing the mole off with liquid nitrogen). Each of these techniques is comfortable for patients.
What Happens After Your Treatment?
After the mole has been removed and the treatment area has been dressed, you will be given specific instructions on how to care for the treated area. There is usually no downtime involved with this treatment. Most people go back to work, run errands, or otherwise resume normal daily activities without delay.
For your post-treatment instructions, you should follow these guidelines for at least two to three weeks. Your instructions will include directions on how to replace bandages, clean the treatment area, and apply ointments to promote healing. You should stay out of direct sunlight, avoid strenuous exercise, and some other physical restrictions.
How Do You Know a Mole Needs Removal?
If you’ve never had a skin concern, then it might be hard to tell when and how often you should have moles on your body checked. But as a general rule of thumb, if you are in any high-risk categories, having a mole check every six to twelve months is ideal. For low-risk patients, a skin check can be done every two to three years.
A patient who is high risk includes those who have spent a lot of time in the sunlight, those who have had serious sun damage in the past, those who have a history of skin cancer in their family, and those who have many moles on the body.
What Does a Suspicious Mole Look Like?
If you want to remove a mole for a medical reason, then you should be sure that your mole is considered suspicious. A suspicious mole has a few defining characteristics, such as an asymmetrical appearance, irregular borders, a mixed or irregular color, a diameter wider than 6mm, failure to heal, or drastic changes to the appearance of the mole over time.
If you are concerned you have a suspicious mole, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with a dermatology expert. During your appointment, the moles on your body will be examined to assess whether or not they are cancerous or pre-cancerous. Mole removal is generally recommended at this appointment if the dermatologist thinks a mole is concerning.
The ABCDE of Moles
When dermatologists and doctors assess moles for signs of cancer or pre-cancer, they look at a specific list of guidelines to determine whether or not the mole needs further medical attention. These guidelines are set by the American Academy of Dermatology and are known as the “ABCDE” guidelines. If a mole has one or more of these characteristics, then it may require removal.
Healthy moles should have a uniform appearance, meaning they are symmetrical. If a mole has an asymmetric appearance, such as one side of the mole is not round, has a thicker texture, or is a different color, then it will be considered abnormal.
The border of a healthy mole is defined, meaning the color of the mole is distinctly different than the surrounding skin tone. If a mole has an undefined, irregular, or blurry border, then it may be abnormal.
Color is another hallmark of unusual moles. A healthy mole should be brown or black, but if a mole has several different shades or has an unusual color, then it may need further treatment.
The size of a mole may also be indicative of abnormality. Cancerous and pre-cancerous moles tend to have a diameter that is 6mm or larger. Even if your mole has a defined border or a regular color, the size of it may be cause for concern.
Moles that have changed in size, shape, and color are also noteworthy. Benign moles will not change their appearance in any way, so if your mole has changed, then it should be looked at as soon as possible.
Can You Prevent Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, so even if you believe you are a low-risk patient, it’s possible that some form of skin cancer can affect you. Sometimes, skin cancer is caused by genetic factors, so there is no way to prevent its development. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent other types of skin cancer.
For example, wearing sunscreen can protect your skin from UV rays that create free radicals in the skin and lead to unusual cellular activity that marks skin cancer. For most people, wearing SPF 30 is perfectly adequate; if you have fair or easily burned skin, then you may want to use stronger sun protection.
What About Mole Removal for Aesthetic Reasons?
Some people may want to remove non-cancerous moles for aesthetic purposes. Some larger non-cancerous moles can complicate your daily life or make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. Regardless of why you want to remove an unwanted mole, you can always schedule an aesthetic appointment for mole removal reno.
Check Your Skin Today
If you feel like you may have a suspicious mole or you simply want to remove an unwanted mole for whatever reason, there are several treatments available to you. A consultation will be the first step of your treatment so a skin expert can assess whether or not you will need medical treatment. If you do have a suspicious mole, it’s best to seek treatment as early as possible. Please contact us at Reno Sparks MedSpa in Reno, NV to schedule your consultation today.