A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words BEFORE & AFTER GALLERY
What Are Moles?
Moles are a very common type of growth on the skin. Usually, they look like small, dark brown spots. They're caused by clusters of melanocytes, which are cells that form pigment.
Most moles are harmless. Only rarely do moles become cancerous, but it is important to be aware of changes in moles or similar-looking pigmented patches and bring such changes to your doctor's attention.
Sometimes people are self-conscious about ordinary moles, especially if they are located where they are readily visible. Mole removal is an option that is safe and can make a real difference.
How Common Are Moles?
The typical adult has anywhere from 10 to 40 moles on their body. Normally they appear during childhood and the adolescent years. They range in color from a pale peach or pinkish tone to dark brown or black. Sometimes moles fade over the years.
Moles vs. Beauty Marks
Beauty marks are just moles that appear in a place that enhances, rather than detracts from, a person's looks. Hollywood icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe were known for having beauty marks.
Over the years, many women have imitated beauty marks through the strategic placement of a dot of eyeliner. The so-called Marilyn Monroe facial piercing is positioned to emulate the late star's beauty mark.
Why People Have Moles Removed
People have moles removed for two main reasons. They may have a mole removed because its changes indicate it may be or may become cancerous. Or they may have a mole removed simply because they don't like how it looks.
If you have a mole that has changed over time, then you should have a doctor examine it. Specific changes that you should be aware of are known by the acronym ABCDE, which stands for
- A - Asymmetry, when the mole is not round or oval, but irregularly shaped.
- B - Border, specifically a border around a mole that is raised or crusty
- C - Color, specifically a change in color, especially if it darkens or takes on a reddish color
- D - Diameter, specifically if the diameter exceeds 6 mm (¼ inch) or the size of a pencil eraser.
- E - Evolution, that is, if the mole is changing noticeably
Cosmetic mole removal is often done on the farce, despite the "Old Hollywood" allure of the beauty mark. A mole on the face may be positioned in a distracting location, or it may be too prominent to allow a person's natural beauty to shine through. But people sometimes choose to have a mole removed from another part of the body if they find it distracts from the look they want.
Mole Removal in Gainesville, FL by Facial Plastic Surgeons
Many people who choose to have mole removal on the face work with a board-certified facial plastic surgeon for the procedure. Facial plastic surgeons are experts in doing aesthetically pleasing work that keeps scarring to an absolute minimum.
In these cases, the facial plastic surgeon will thoroughly examine the mole that is to be removed to determine whether it is a healthy mole or one that is potentially dangerous. If a mole is deemed suspicious, both the mole and a bit of its surrounding tissue may be sent to a pathologist to check if it is cancerous.
The Mole Removal Process
Mole removal begins with a consultation and examination. The facial plastic surgeon then suggests the best procedure for mole removal.
The actual procedure begins with the cleaning of the mole and the surrounding area. Then, a local anesthetic is used. This may be applied topically, or it may be injected. Some surgeons use both topical and injected local anesthetics, depending on the patient and the specific location of the mole.
When mole removal is complete, the surgeon dresses the site of the removal with ointment and bandages to protect the area while it heals. Patients receive aftercare instructions to follow for the quickest healing and best results.
Types of Mole Removal
There are two leading mole removal procedures: surgical excision and shaving excision. The choice of procedure is done on a case-by-case basis.
With surgical excision, the surgeon uses a scalpel to cut out the mole, along with a small margin of tissue surrounding the mole. They may cauterize the area to prevent bleeding before using stitches to close the incision.
Shaving excision is best for shallower moles. In this procedure, the surgeon uses a tool to shave the mole down to the same level as the surrounding skin tissue. Then, the surgeon may cauterize the shaved area to minimize bleeding and scarring.
Lesser-Used Mole Removal Procedures
Lasers, electrical cautery, and liquid nitrogen can be used to remove moles. However, these procedures are not always appropriate, especially for moles located on the face.
Laser treatments are sometimes used for flat, non-cancerous moles. The lasers break down the pigmented cells, but several treatments are necessary for the complete removal of the mole.
Electrical cautery uses an electrical current to destroy the mole, and liquid nitrogen freezes the mole to destroy it. These processes are a bit “messier” than surgical mole removal, and the moles are likelier to return after these procedures.
Do Moles Return After Mole Removal?
It can happen. Moles are more likely to return after shaving excision than after surgical excision. However, if an insufficient margin of tissue is excised along with the mole, there may still be clusters of pigmented cells left behind that can eventually develop into a mole. Surgical excision minimizes the chances of a mole returning.
Even minor procedures like mole removal pose some risks. Though the procedure is done on an outpatient basis and doesn't take much time, there are still some risks, including
- Damage to nerves
- Recurrence of the mole
Your facial plastic surgeons will discuss these risks with you beforehand. And while all facial surgery results in some scarring, facial plastic surgeons are especially skilled in minimizing scarring.
How much downtime is there after mole removal?
There is essentially no downtime after mole removal. Only local anesthetics are used. You should be able to drive yourself to and from your appointment and should have no trouble returning to school or work when the procedure is over.
How do I care for the surgical site after mole removal?
The surgical site is a wound, and therefore you need to keep it clean and protected. Your surgeon or his staff will educate you on caring for the surgical site.
It is best to follow these instructions to the letter to facilitate swift healing and keep the risk of scarring to a minimum. Your provider will also advise you on changing the surgical site dressing and on any ointments you should use.
How long until I can see the final result?
Your general health, age, and the size of the mole removed all affect the total healing time after mole removal. Expect two to three weeks of healing time before you can evaluate the final result.
Though the site where you had the mole removed must undergo healing and can be a bit sore, you should be able to carry on with your normal daily activities. But it is essential that you follow all instructions for bandaging and other aftercare to prevent infection.
What recovery problems should promote me to call my surgeon?
Watch the surgical excision site as it heals for any troubling changes. Call your surgeon’s office in these cases:
- The site bleeds and does not stop
- Redness or pus develops, indicating an infection
- You are worried about how the site looks after it heals
- The mole returns
I have seen home mole-removal kits for sale. Can I use one of them?
Trying to remove a mole yourself is highly inadvisable. There are several reasons why it can be dangerous to attempt to remove a mole yourself:
- The mole could be cancerous, in which case it needs professional treatment
- You could leave part of the mole behind
- The risk of infections is high
- The risk of scarring is high
- Home lasers for mole removal can cause discoloration or make skin cells appear cancerous (even if they are not)
You are far better off turning to a board-certified facial plastic surgeon for mole removal. They have the experience and the tools to get the best possible results and minimize scarring. Furthermore, if they suspect a mole may be cancerous, they can arrange for the appropriate diagnostic tests and referrals.
A board-certified plastic surgeon has your best interests in mind when it comes to mole removal. Whether the mole is on your face or some other part of your body, a plastic surgeon will use their expertise to do the job safely and in such a way that gets outstanding aesthetic results.
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