Not a single thing on your body passes without notice. It’s true that we tend to be our worst critics. Also, we place too much importance on our appearance. Not always do we end up disappointed, though. Beauty marks and skin moles are the same things.
On one end of the spectrum, people flaunt their moles, and on the other, they try to hide them using makeup. Usually, the moles that are bigger in size protrude from the skin which many people find problematic. And so, they may seek a skin mole removal treatment.
That’s cosmetic mole removal. However, some moles are a sign of melanoma, a type of serious skin cancer. It is rare for common moles to become cancerous. Those who have a large number of moles on their body are at an increased risk of skin cancer. If the size, shape, or colour of your mole changes, you need to get it checked by a dermatologist. Let’s find out more about skin moles and their removal procedure.
What Is A Skin Mole?
Skin moles form as a result of the rapid growth and clustering of melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin The activity of the melanocytes, their size, number, and distribution cause differences in skin colours. Most of the moles are harmless. However, that may be a reason why so little is known about the reason for their development.
Moles can develop anywhere on the skin, and they can appear in a group. Usually, people develop moles at birth or during childhood; benign moles develop in areas more exposed to the sun. They are also common in adolescence and can form in adulthood. However, you should keep an eye out for them in case their appearance changes. Moles can come and go.
How Do Skin Moles Form?
Benign moles can develop as a result of variations in different genes. Among those, the BRAF gene is most understood. This gene helps assemble the protein that sends signals inside the cells, helping in their growth and multiplication. One reason why common (benign) moles develop is that mutations occur in this gene. The mutant protein results in the clustering of the melanocytes.
However, the proliferation doesn’t have to become cancerous because the genetic mutation in BRAF also produces another protein – P15. This protein inhibits the growth of cancer cells and is a tumour suppressor.
The BRAF gene has also been linked to melanoma. A mutation in this gene, along with others, can result in cancerous cell growth. That’s not the only risk factor for melanoma. Prolonged sun exposure, family history of melanoma, and fair skin increase susceptibility to it.
Do Skin Moles Change Over Time?
Common skin moles can change over time, even if these moles are harmless. They can darken on sun exposure and the use of tanning beds. Hormonal fluctuations that occur in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can also change the existing moles. It can also result in the formation of new ones. They can also lose colour as you age. Moreover, with time, their protrusion from the skin surface can increase, and they can also flatten out. They can also wrinkle.
Common moles are usually black, brown or pink in appearance. If its colour is red and it looks like a mole, it may be a cherry angioma. They form not due to the overgrowth of melanocytes but due to the clustering of blood vessels. They are non-cancerous and common in adults.
What Are 4 Types of Moles?
There are different types of skin moles.
These are the moles that a child is born with. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD), nearly 1 in 100 babies have congenital moles. The size of these moles can be as small as 1/4 inch or cover the entire body. The giant congenital mole is rare and happens in 1 in 200,000 or 500,000 births.
The chances of a congenital mole becoming cancerous is more than that of a mole that appears after the birth of the child. So, you should keep an eye out for the ABCDEs of melanoma, which we’ll get to in a moment. The appearance and colour of this mole can vary. It may or may not have hair on it.
Dysplastic Moles or Atypical Moles
According to the AOCD, 1 in 10 Americans has dysplastic moles. These moles are at a greater risk of becoming cancerous. However, having atypical moles also doesn’t mean that you’ll get skin cancer. Therefore, it’s not imperative for you to get this mole removed. Their size is more than that of a pencil eraser, and it has irregular edges. Brown dysplastic moles may have shades of dark and light.
Acquired Moles or Common Moles
These are the moles that you acquire in your life. They are symmetrical and have a regular border. Usually, they develop as a result of sun damage. They are brown, tan or pink in colour. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), people with lighter skin tones have 10 to 40 of these. Those with more than 50 acquired moles are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Spitz nevus is a rare, benign skin tumour. Usually, it is found in people younger than 20, but it has also been seen in adults. Although it may look like melanoma, it is not cancerous. These can grow quite rapidly and even have different colours like red, blue, and brown. A Spitz nevus can develop anywhere.
What Are The 5 Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer To Look For?
You should know the ABCDEs of melanoma. If you notice any of these happening to moles on your skin, you should get these checked by your dermatologist.
When the two different parts of the mole don’t look similar to each other and have an irregular appearance, they are asymmetrical.
The border of the mole is not clearly defined and irregular.
The mole has different colours. You may see shades of black, blue, red, brown, or white in it.
The diameter of the mole is more than 6mm (equal to that of a pencil eraser). However, it may be smaller than that.
If you notice a change in the size, shape or colour of the mole in weeks or months, you need to get a consultation.
It is not normal for your moles to itch, bleed, ooze or hurt. If you notice any of these signs or the ABCDEs of skin cancer, you need to talk to your dermatologist. You should also pay special attention to moles in those areas of the body that are more exposed to the sun.
According to Cancer Research UK, nearly 16,700 cases of melanoma get reported annually. It’s the fifth most common cancer among females and the sixth most common among males. Still, you don’t need a skin mole removal procedure for every mole that seems suspicious. You should always consult a dermatologist or your doctor to get a skin exam. Ideally, you should get it annually.
How Are Skin Moles Removed?
For cancerous skin mole removal, the doctor will first do a biopsy by cutting out a piece of the skin or the entire mole. S/he will remove the mole if it’s cancerous. However, not all moles are cancerous. Some people want to get rid of them because they find them unsightly.
Done on an outpatient basis, once you reach the clinic, the doctor will apply a local anaesthetic for mole removal. A dermatology specialist will perform the procedure. Usually, it only needs one appointment. But sometimes, the doctor may want to remove half of the mole. In this case, the patient will need a second appointment. There are two types of skin mole removal procedures:
Shave Excision or Shave Removal Mole
In this skin mole removal procedure, the surgeon will use a sharp razor blade to remove the mole by making horizontal cuts. You should not feel any pain during the treatment.
The dermatology specialist may follow it with electrosurgical feathering. This will smooth the edges of the wound and reduce scarring. The doctor will send the mole to a lab for getting it checked. There is no need for any stitches after this type of skin mole removal procedure.
Surgical Excision or Excision Removal Mole
In this skin mole removal treatment, the doctor will numb the area after you arrive at the clinic. For the excision, s/he will use a scalpel. They might cut deep into the skin and the skin surrounding the mole for good measure.
After the excision, the dermatologist will stitch the skin together. The mole removed could or could not be cancerous. If the mole grows back after the removal surgery, you should get in touch with the dermatologist.
How to Care For Skin After Mole Removal?
Try to keep the wound hydrated by using petroleum jelly. You should also make sure to keep the area clean. Also, have it bandaged as it also reduces the risk of infection.
After the wound has closed up, you can gently massage it to stimulate blood flow to the area. It will also help in healing. Other than that, try to stay out of the sun. When you do get out, make sure to apply sunscreen to the wound. Protect it from direct sunlight for at least a year.
How Long Does Skin Take To Heal After Mole Removal?
The recovery period after skin mole removal can vary for different patients. The growing bodies of young patients allow the wound to heal more quickly than in older people. If the size of the wound is large, it will take more time to heal. Healing proceeds in four different stages:
Following the skin mole removal, the body tries to stop the bleeding from the wound site through clotting. The blood vessels constrict, and platelets along with fibrin mesh form the plug that stops blood from leaking out.
It’s a natural part of the healing. Here, the white blood cells make sure to remove any foreign agents and debris that have entered the body. This is also the stage where the cell starts to repair.
Extracellular matrix and collagen together form the new tissue to heal the wound after the skin mole removal. At this stage, the size of the wound will start to decrease.
Next comes the stage when the collagen fibres realign and the wound starts to “settle down.” This stage can last for a couple of years.
Should You Do Skin Mole Removal At Home?
You should not try skin mole removal at home. It can cause very bad and deep scarring. Moreover, you might end up with an infection. If the mole’s cancerous, you might also end up not getting rid of the cancerous mass completely. So, do not try this at home in any case. Even if they are just skin tags, you shouldn’t try to twist its stalk to detach it from the skin.
Is Skin Mole Removal Without Scarring Possible?
Unfortunately, skin mole removal surgery can cause permanent scarring. Scarring is a part of the healing process. Still, it is important that you take good care of the skin after mole removal to avoid poor wound healing. Applying a cream with vitamin E in it can help. Also, the skin mole removal scar should fade with time. So, be patient.
How Much Does Skin Mole Removal Cost?
If the mole is “harmless,” it will not be treated by the NHS. So, if you want to remove it for cosmetic reasons, you’ll have to get the procedure privately. In the UK, skin mole removal can cost anywhere between £300-£3,000. Longevita offers this treatment in Turkey at the starting price of £150.
Most moles are not cancerous. However, many people prefer to remove them because they find them unattractive. After the skin mole removal procedure, it’s important that you follow the aftercare instructions to achieve good results. If you’re looking for skin removal treatment, contact a dermatologist.