Moles are a common type of skin growth and can come in a variety of shapes and shades. They can appear tan, brown, black, reddish-brown, pink, purple, or flesh-colored and can be flat or raised, round or oval. Moles that are atypical in shape or color should be assessed by a dermatologist and may need to be removed.
In most cases, moles are entirely harmless and are considered normal. The average person can usually point out between 10 to 40 moles on their body. Still, some patients may view their moles as unsightly and wish to remove them.
Moles occur when melanocyte cells, the skin cells responsible for your skin's natural pigment, grow in clusters or clumps rather than spread throughout the skin. This over-pigmentation can lead to a mole or group of them.
What exactly triggers this process, though, is still not fully understood. Many doctors and researchers believe that moles can be caused by genetics, hormones, sun exposure, and, in rare cases, cancer. The best way to prevent and manage moles is by monitoring them, limiting sun exposure, and regularly applying SPF.
Mole Removal Treatment
At Dallas Dermatology Partners, we have two main procedures we use to remove moles. The method used is determined by the depth, location, color, skin type, and age.
Shave or Punch Removal
In a simple and quick in-office procedure, moles can be removed with local anesthesia with a blade, which requires no stitches, or a punch, which requires several small stitches. The procedure may leave behind a linear scar, but it will usually fade with time.
In some cases, moles may need to be removed via surgery. This is typical for moles that are larger and deeper in size, potentially cancerous or are unlikely to respond to other treatments. Surgical removal does require local anesthetics to numb the area and reduce discomfort during the procedure. The mole is then removed through excision, and the skin is stitched back together. The procedure may leave behind a linear scar, but it will usually fade with time.
Types of Moles
While moles can come in various shapes and colors, there are only three main types. When visiting a mole removal dermatologist from Dallas Dermatology Partners, we will help categorize your mole into one of these three categories and determine your risk factor, if any, for melanoma.
- Congenital Mole – This classification refers to any mole that a person is born with. They are typically round or oval-shaped, raised, and can range in size. Congenital moles are usually harmless and pose little risk of skin cancer, though giant congenital moles may slightly increase the risk of developing melanoma in the future.
- Common mole or acquired mole – Moles that develop after birth, typically within the first 20 to 30 years of life, are classified as acquired. In most cases, they are completely harmless and present little risk for melanoma. However, those with 50 or more acquired moles should monitor them and visit a dermatologist.
- Atypical mole or dysplastic nevus – Moles with odd shapes, irregular coloring, and larger than a pencil eraser are considered atypical. They are not melanoma, though they may appear to be. Still, those with atypical moles may have an increased risk of developing melanoma.
A thorough exam by a physician can help you determine whether your mole is normal or atypical, and if it should be monitored, treated, or removed.
The majority of moles develop during childhood and into the teenage and young adult years. Over time, they can slowly change color, become raised, or even fade away. However, if you notice an existing mole is changing or growing, or if you spot a new mole on the body, you should visit a dermatologist to have it examined.
Schedule a Consultation Today
The best way to determine how to remove your moles is by scheduling a consultation with a dermatologist. At Dallas Dermatology Partners, we will discuss various treatment options with you and guide you to one that will work best for you.