- What is a mole?
- Does a facial mole mean I have skin cancer?
- What are the types of mole removal?
- Should I have my mole removed?
Ultimately, the decision to have a facial mole removed is yours; but in most cases, it’s perfectly safe to have a facial mole removed by a specialist like a facial plastic surgeon. Moles on the face are typically removed for cosmetic reasons during a short procedure that involves minimal recovery.
If you have a mole on your face, this blog post will help you understand your options.
What Is a Mole?
Moles are a very common type of skin lesion. They appear on your skin as raised or flat brown or black bumps that can show up as a single mole or a cluster of several. Most moles occur early on in a person’s lifetime, and as the years pass, the mole can change color, develop hairs, or raise up more on the skin. Others may slowly go away over time.
Moles happen when the cells in your skin begin to grow in a cluster, instead of dispersing across the skin surface. The cells are called melanocytes, and their purpose is to give your skin its natural pigment. There are two different types of moles:
- Congenital nevi moles occur in about one in 100 people at birth
- Dysplastic nevi appear after birth and are typically larger than a pencil eraser
Congenital nevi moles are just slightly more likely to develop into cancer than dysplastic nevi. Any mole or other skin lesion should be checked if it’s larger than a pencil eraser or if it follows the A,B,C,D,E rule set by doctors:
- Asymmetry: The mole is uneven; one side of the mole doesn’t match the other.
- Border: The mole’s edges are irregular or ragged.
- Color: The mole is changing in color or is shaded in black, blue, brown, red, or white.
- Diameter: The mole’s diameter is larger than a pencil eraser.
- Evolution: The mole is changing in color, shape, or size.
If any of these conditions occur, your mole is bleeding, or you simply want it removed for cosmetic reasons, please see your doctor for help.
Does a Facial Mole Mean I Have Skin Cancer?
Having any type of mole does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Moles can be non-cancerous (benign), cancerous, or borderline. I usually reassure my patients, “Very rarely are they anything other than benign conditions. If, however, they’re suspicious, we can send out for a biopsy and get a pathology report.“
Benign moles don’t even need to be removed, but many people prefer to have them taken off visible areas on the body such as the face.
Mole Removal Options: Laser, Shaving Excision, Mini Fusiform Excision
We use three primary types of surgical techniques to remove your mole: shaving excision, laser surgery, or mini fusiform excision. The most important thing when deciding whether to remove the mole using a shaving technique, a laser, or a mini-fusiform incision, is where it’s positioned.
No matter the type of procedure, these small surgeries usually take less than 20 minutes. We typically perform these procedures under local anesthesia in our outpatient surgery center.
Shave Mole Removal
The shaving technique is most commonly used, scraping the mole away with a scalpel. Before removing the mole, the doctor injects a local anesthetic into the mole and the surface skin so this is a completely painless procedure. We take a very precise, sharp scalpel and plane down the skin, removing the skin tag until it’s a smooth surface.
Laser Mole Removal on the Face
A laser may also be used in place of the shaving technique to remove the mole. Laser is a form of light radiation. It is typically used on flat, small, benign moles. The laser procedure prevents the recurrence of the mole, and it can be a good option if the lesion is in a hard-to-reach area such as the back of the ear. It can also be used on multiple moles at the same time.
Mini Fusiform Excision for Mole Removal
In this outpatient procedure, a tiny, football-shaped excision of skin is made around the mole. The procedure is done under local anesthesia so there’s no discomfort. I then complete some very delicate and precise suturing of the small area where the surgery occurred.
The procedure requires a little more healing time and may result afterward in a faint, pink scar that we go back and lightly treat with a laser as needed. The key to a good cosmetic result is placing the incision in an area of skin called “the relaxed tension line,” or what patients may call a natural crease. I am meticulous at hiding the incision on these surgeries in this way.
The healing time between laser treatment and the shave excision is very similar. Both can be covered with a small Band-Aid, and you can recover in about 3 to 7 days. Patients apply some healing ointment to speed the process and should avoid the sun to protect the surgery site.
In a recent study, 90% of moles are removed with these kinds of single, simple procedures with no follow-up needed. Only 7% of the test subjects in the study found their moles were not benign. Researchers found that these kinds of “one and done” surgical procedures were highly effective.
Should I Have My Mole Removed?
There are a few reasons you might decide to have a mole evaluated and removed:
- Your mole is growing, changing color, or you’re worried it may be cancerous.
- You have multiple moles in some “unsightly” places.
- Your mole is on the face, and you’d like to remove it without leaving a scar.
You can see more before and after pictures of our mole removal patients in our photo gallery.
We frequently remove facial moles for our patients. To find out your treatment options at Primera Plastic Surgery request a consultation online or call us at (407) 333-3040 to schedule a consultation.
This post was originally published in May 2021 and updated in June 2023.