- 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.
Edward J. Gross, M.D., double board-certified facial plastic surgeon at Primera Plastic Surgery and Med Spa, says, “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 article 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 that follow the A,B,C,D,E rule set by doctors:
- Asymmetry is uneven; one side of the mole doesn’t match the other
- Border is irregular or ragged
- Color is changing or is shaded in black, blue, brown, red, or white
- Diameter is larger than a pencil eraser
- Evolution of 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, and borderline.
Dr. Gross says, “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.
What are the Types of Mole Removal?
There are three primary types of surgical techniques that Dr. Gross uses to remove your mole: shaving excision, laser surgery, or mini fusiform excision.
Dr. Gross says, “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. Dr. Gross says, “Typically, these are done under local anesthesia, in our outpatient surgery center.”
Surgical Shaving Excision Technique for Mole Removal
The shaving technique is most commonly used and scrapes 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.
Dr. Gross says, “We take a very precise, sharp scalpel, after the skin is numbed, and plane down the skin, removing the skin tag until it’s a smooth surface.”
Laser Surgical Technique for Mole Removal
A laser may also be used in place of the shaving
technique to remov
e the mole. Laser is a form of light radiation. This 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.
Dr. Gross says, “The benefit to using a laser for mole removal is that there is almost no residual scar.”
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 a local anesthesia so there’s no discomfort. Dr. Gross then completes some very delicate and precise suturing of the small area where the surgery occurred.
Dr. Gross says, “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.” Key to a good cosmetic result, Dr. Gross says, is placing the incision in an area of skin called “the relaxed tension line, or what patients may call, ‘a natural crease.” Dr. Gross is an expert 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 three to seven days. Patients apply some healing ointment to speed the process. Patients should also 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 why you might decide to see Dr. Gross for a mole evaluation and removal:
- 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
Dr. Gross and the team of facial plastic surgery experts at Primera Plastic Surgery frequently remove facial moles for their patients. Talk with our team today to schedule your consultation to find out your treatment options.