Moles, or melanocytic nevus, are the result of the growth of melanocytes in the skin. Melanocytes create melanin, the cells that change the color of skin and make it darker in appearance. According the DermWeb, when melanocytes cluster together, they create moles. While people may classify their moles as beauty marks, some find raised moles unsightly and wish to have them removed.
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One reason for removal of a raised mole is location. If you have moles that are normally covered up with clothing, they may not be a concern. If they are on the face, legs or arms, they may grow and change or become unsightly. Removing them is a personal preference, especially if they are benign. The Redding Dermatology Medical Group suggests that if the raised mole catches on body jewelry or clothing or irritates other areas of the skin, it should be removed.
Types of Moles
Most raised moles are benign--non-cancerous. Congenital nevi is a type of mole that is present at birth or within the first 20 years of life. Some people refer to them as birthmarks or beauty marks. Dysplastic nevi are moles that generally develop after the age of 20 and can become larger or more irregular because of heredity, age or excessive sun exposure. Any moles that demonstrate characteristics such as being larger than the head of a pencil eraser, variations in color, irregular borders or a crusty appearance should be examined by a medical professional to rule out skin cancer. During this early part of the melanoma screening process, the physician will answer questions you may have about your health and the mole removal process.
Reasons for Removal
The biggest reason to have a raised mole removed is because of a recommendation of your physician or dermatologist. After a careful examination, he may choose to biopsy the mole and possibly the surrounding tissue and have it examined under a microscope for signs of skin cancer.
The American Academy of Dermatology says there are several options for removal of raised moles. Curettage and electrodessication involves removing the mole with a curette or sharp scalpel or knife. The physician may also cauterize the skin to prevent excess bleeding. If the raised mole has melanoma characteristics, a surgical excision may be performed. This cuts into the skin and removes the entire mole and surrounding tissue; the skin is then stitched and sealed. Cryosurgery is another typical removal method in which liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the mole and it eventually falls off. This is used in cases where no skin cancer is suspected. Most nevi are sent to a pathology department for diagnosis.
The Cosmetic Surgery Society explains that the recovery process is minimal with most mole removal. For curettage, the area will likely scab over and completely heal in about 14 days. For minor surgery that requires stitches, the recovery time could be two to four weeks. In instances where the mole is frozen, the nevi will fall off within five to 10 days. Afterward, new skin will begin to grow and heal the area. Most mole removal is done in a physician’s office and does not require inpatient hospitalization.