Many people refer to a mole as any dark spot or irregularity in the skin. Doctors use different terms. But skin marks such as these are not treated the same way moles are and are not discussed here:
Moles, known medically as nevi, are clusters of pigmented cells that often appear as small, dark brown spots on your torso, face, arms, and legs. But moles can come in a range of colors and can develop virtually anywhere, including your scalp, armpits, under your nails, and between your fingers and toes.
Most people have between 10 and 40 moles, although the number you have may change throughout life. New moles can appear into mid-adulthood, and because moles last about 50 years, some moles may disappear as you age.
The great majority of moles are harmless, but in rare cases, moles may become cancerous. Monitoring moles and other pigmented patches is an important step in the diagnosis of skin cancer, especially malignant melanoma. Although not all melanomas develop from pre-existing moles, many begin in or near a mole or other dark spot on the skin. Board-certified NYC dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Rokhsar specializes in mole removal1 for Manhattan and Garden City patients.
An estimated one out of every 10 Americans have at least one atypical mole. These moles are larger than common moles, with borders that are irregular and poorly defined. Atypical moles also vary in color, ranging from tan to dark brown shades on a pink background. They have irregular borders that may include notches. They may fade into the surrounding skin and include a flat portion level with the skin. These are some of the features that one sees when looking at a melanoma. When a pathologist looks at an atypical mole under the microscope, it has features that are in-between a normal mole and a melanoma.
While atypical moles are considered to be pre-cancerous (more likely to turn into melanoma than regular moles), not everyone who has atypical moles gets melanoma. In fact, most moles — both ordinary and atypical ones — never become cancerous. Thus the removal of all atypical nevi is unnecessary. In fact, half of the melanomas found on people with atypical moles arise from normal skin and not an atypical mole.
Surgical excision should be done where cancer is a reasonable concern. Improving cosmetic appearance is another reason for excision, but all surgery leaves some scarring. Smaller nevi can be “shaved off”. Larger ones can be cut out directly and the wound edges are sewn together. Much larger nevi may be excised in stages by taking a little more out each time until the entire nevus is removed. This is called “serial excision.” Cutting out very large nevi will leave behind a raw area that is too big to be sewn together and must be covered. This can be done with a split-thickness skin graft from some other normal area of the body. The skin-grafted area will have varying degrees of scarring and will usually be thinner and more fragile than normal skin.
There are various benefits to this procedure including:
Before the mole is removed, the area is cleansed and then an anesthetic is applied to numb the area. The type of mole being removed determines what technique is used. Depending on the technique, stitches may or may not be used.
For excision of the mole, the surgeon uses a scalpel to cut the mole and a border of good skin surrounding it. The surgeon will determine the size of this border. Stitches will be placed either deep within the skin or on the upper surface, depending on the depth of the excision.
For the procedure that involves no stitches, a scalpel is used to shave the mole allowing it to be flush with the surrounding skin. Then using an electrical instrument, the doctor cauterizes the area to stop any bleeding. A topical antibiotic is applied to reduce the risk of infection. Shaving removes the protruding surface of the mole, but it can leave mole cells beneath the skin and may grow back.
Mole removal2 typically takes less than an hour to perform, depending on the number of moles to be removed.
Some people are born with moles. Other moles appear over time. Sun exposure seems to play a role in the development of moles and may even play a role in the development of atypical, or dysplastic, moles. The role of heredity cannot be underemphasized. Many families have a type of mole known as dysplastic (atypical), which can be associated with a higher frequency of melanoma or skin cancer.
Before the mole is removed, the area is cleansed and then an anesthetic is applied to numb the area. The type of mole being removed determines what technique is used. Depending on the technique, stitches may or may not be used. For excision of the mole, NYC board-certified dermatologic surgeon Dr. Rokhsar uses a scalpel to cut the mole and a border of good skin surrounding it. The surgeon will determine the size of this border. Stitches are then placed either deep within the skin or on the upper surface, depending on the depth of the excision.
After mole removal in our NYC office, healing should take place within 2 to 3 weeks of surgery.
For the procedure that involves no stitches, a scalpel is used to shave the mole allowing it to be flush with the surrounding skin. Then using an electrical instrument, the doctor cauterizes the area to stop any bleeding. A topical antibiotic is applied to reduce the risk of infection and promote healing.
NYC board-certified dermatologic surgeon and laser expert Dr. Rokhsar is expertly-trained and passionate about treating patients throughout New York. His mole removal treatment3 offers Manhattan, Long Island and Garden City patients smoother, healed skin free of blemishes. Contact Dr. Rokhsar today for your mole removal consultation.
Upper East Side Manhattan
121 East 60th Street, Suite 8AB New York, NY 10022
Garden City Long Island
901 Stewart Ave, Suite 240, Garden City, NY 11530
1 Treatments and Info for Mole Removal Scars. Available: https://www.healthline.com/health/mole-removal-scar.
2 Mole Removal: What You Need to Know. Available: https://www.realself.com/nonsurgical/mole-removal.
3 Removal of Moles. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1521766/.