Most moles are harmless, but your healthcare provider might recommend removing a mole if it looks suspicious. Moles can also be removed for cosmetic reasons. Whether you have surgical excision or shaving to remove a mole, the procedure is quick and shouldn’t hurt once the area is numb. After the procedure, you may have stinging or burning around the area for a few days.
What is mole removal?
In a mole removal procedure, your dermatologist shaves or cuts a mole to remove it from your skin. A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the skin. It’s generally a quick, outpatient procedure that allows your healthcare provider to test the mole for skin cancer. Some people also have moles removed for cosmetic reasons.
What is a mole?
Moles often appear in your childhood or teens and range in color from your natural skin tone to pink, brown or black. People with darker hair or skin tend to have darker moles than people with fairer hair or skin. Moles can be flat or raised from the surface of your skin. Your healthcare provider might refer to your mole as a nevus (“nee-vis”) or a group of moles as nevi (“neev-eye”).
It’s normal to have about 10–40 moles by the time you’re an adult. Some moles grow slowly and may lighten or disappear over time. Most moles are harmless, but you should see your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about the appearance of a mole, or if it changes color or shape, becomes itchy or bleeds.
Sometimes, moles are skin cancer or precancerous. If your mole is itchy, bleeds, isn’t round or oval, or you notice changes in its appearance, contact your healthcare provider.
Why is mole removal done?
Mole removal treats atypical moles anywhere on your face, neck, arms legs or torso. Your healthcare provider may recommend removal of an atypical mole so they can run a test (biopsy) to see if the growth is cancerous (malignant) or precancerous. And if your dermatologist is able to remove the mole and achieves good margins (the area around the mole), mole removal may serve as a curative treatment for skin cancer that hasn’t spread.
Your healthcare provider may also remove a mole if you’re unhappy with its location or appearance.
Who needs to have this treatment?
Most moles don’t require treatment. But you might want to have a mole removed if you’re unhappy with how it looks or feels. Talk with your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about a mole. Generally, moles are removed if your provider suspects they might be cancerous or for cosmetic reasons.
Atypical mole removal
Typical moles are round, flat or slightly raised, even in color and stay pretty much the same shape and size over time. But if your mole looks atypical (dysplastic), your healthcare provider might suggest removing it so they can run tests to determine if it’s cancer (malignant) or not cancer (benign).
Cosmetic mole removal
Whether you were born with a mole or it developed over time, you might not like how it looks or feels. If you have a mole that bothers you, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. Don’t attempt at-home mole removal. Getting a mole removed by a medical professional is safer and you’ll be happier with how you look after you heal.