Skin cells that create pigmentation create the dark growths and lesions called moles, new growths that appear in a variety of sizes ranging from pin-sized to an inch or more in diameter. According to Merck, most people have moles and many are hereditary. Moles that change size and color may indicate cancer or other skin diseases and should be removed. Most moles cause cosmetic concerns however and can be removed through a variety of techniques, including laser surgery.
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Prior to having a mole removed with laser surgery, the Cleveland Clinic recommends getting the mole diagnosed by a dermatologist or doctor. While most moles are benign and easily respond to the cosmetic procedure, moles that are recent developments and that change in size, shape or appearance need to undergo a biopsy to ensure there is no cancer present. If there is a possibility that the mole is cancerous, the entire mole and a significant amount of surrounding skin must be surgically removed.
The size and shape of a mole is important when deciding if laser surgery is the best method to remove the skin lesion. According to the San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center, laser treatments are best suited for removing flat moles that do not protrude above the surface of the skin. These moles typically have been present from birth and are usually brown or black.
The effects of the intense targeted light from the laser penetrate into the top layer of skin. Bursts of radiation from the laser light vaporize the skin. The underlying skin is left intact and there is no bleeding associated with the method. According to the San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center, most moles require at least two or three treatments before they are completely eradicated.
While cutting and shaving are the preferred methods for removing moles, these methods can leave scars and are often difficult to perform in sensitive areas, such as the face and ears. Lasers are easily positioned to target small, hard-to-reach areas and are also more useful for removing multiple moles at the same time.
Side effects are rare following laser mole surgery, but they can occur. According to the Derma Network, the most common side effect is changes in skin color. Dark-skinned people may have lighter areas of new skin growth where the laser was used and fair-skinned people sometimes are left with darker skin patches. The abnormal skin pigmentation often disappears in time, but may remain permanently. Other rare side effects include infections and rough patches of skin.