Getting a mole removed

Reasons to remove a mole

Your dermatologist could remove a mole for a few reasons. Some of them include if the mole is bothersome and rubs on clothes, or if you find it unattractive. Your dermatologist also may remove a mole if it is suspicious or potentially cancerous.

Never try to remove a mole at home

Do not attempt to remove a mole yourself. Moles should be removed by a professional in a clinical setting, using sterile instruments. Trying to remove a mole yourself puts you at high risk for infection and it also may cause significant scarring.

When to make an appointment

If you have a mole that is changing, itching, or bleeding you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

Mole removal

Your dermatologist can remove a mole in a couple of ways.

Shaving without stitches

During a shave removal the mole will be shaved off at or slightly below the skin. After the removal an electrical instrument will cauterize or burn the area. A solution also may be placed on the area to stop any bleeding. The wound will be covered with a bandage and your doctor should give you instructions on how to care for your wound.

Excision with stitches

Excision is typically performed where an optimal scar is desired. The surgeon will begin by mapping out the area, cleaning and numbing it. Then they will cut around the mole slightly past its edge, using a scalpel.

Stitches are placed depending on the depth of the mole. They may be placed deeper, where they are absorbed by the body and do not have to be removed. Stitches also may be placed on the surface of the skin. Surface stitches may need to be removed later.

Wound care

After your procedure you should keep your wound covered and hydrated to minimize scarring. You also should clean the wound and replace the bandage once or twice a day.

Risks of mole removal

The biggest risks of mole removal are infection and scarring. Properly caring for your wound until it heals helps prevent these risks. The best way to care for your wound is by keeping it clean, moist, and covered.

Prevent scarring

To help prevent a scar, keep the area hydrated. Keep your wound covered in a layer of petrolatum (Vaseline), or similar ointment. Many over-the-counter medications also can help minimize the appearance of scars.

Tips on managing moles

  1. Perform a self-check on your skin. Check for any new moles or moles that have appeared to change shape, size, or color.
  2. Protect your skin while outdoors. Avoid tanning and wear sunscreen to help prevent sun damage to moles.
Last reviewed: 
February 2019

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