What is a Mole?
A mole is a collection of pigment-producing cells in the skin known as melanocytes.
A very serious, potentially fatal, type of skin cancer, known as melanoma, results from moles (or melanocytes) that have mutated or turned bad.
Patients with multiple moles, moles that are changing in any way, or with a family history of skin cancer of any kind should have their moles routinely examined by a dermatologist. Failure to have melanoma diagnosed in its early stages and treated accordingly can result in significant morbidity for the patient, and even death.
When a dermatologist examines your moles, they may recommend that a particular mole be removed or biopsied because it demonstrates abnormal features. In this case of a biopsy, the dermatologist will take a surgical specimen of the abnormal mole and send it for histological examination. If the mole is abnormal under the microscope, additional treatment may be required.
Ask your dermatologist to review the characteristic features of abnormal moles and melanoma for your own future reference. An important part of reducing skin cancer is to encourage not only routine skin examinations by a dermatologist, but also by increasing individual awareness of moles and melanoma and having patients complete regular self examinations.
Normal (Non-Cancerous) Moles
In many cases, mole removal is not medically necessary (ie the mole has normal features, has not changed etc), but the patient may wish to have a mole removed for cosmetic reasons, particularly if the mole is located in a cosmetically sensitive area, such as the face, neck or chest.
Moles may be removed quickly and virtually pain-free. If you have a mole that is troubling you, either medically or cosmetically, you should have it examined by a dermatologist.
When the cosmetic outcome of mole removal is a priority, such as those on the face, Dr. Lubitz often recommends the use of a CO2 Laser. Moles can also be removed by shave excision through the use of scalpel, but the cosmetic results are less favourable. In some cases, Dr. Lubitz will recommend that a mole be removed by surgical excision with sutures, but this treatment is usually reserved for very suspicious moles where complete removal is necessary. This type of excision results in a larger scar, and therefore, it is rarely suggested for moles removed for cosmetic reasons.
At Art of SKIN Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Surgery, we have a variety of lasers at our disposal – including the SmartSkin CO2, the Alexandrite (755) and the Palomar Icon IPL and Elite MPX IPL, in addition to a variety of vascular lasers – to safely remove benign moles with minimal pain and scarring and to maximize the cosmetic outcome. The choice of using one laser over another will depend on several factors, and will be discussed with you at the time of consultation.
Call Art of SKIN Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Surgery today and arrange a consultation to have a treatment plan arranged for you.
Note that patients wishing to have a medical examination of their moles by Dr. Lubitz will require a referral from their physician. Patients seeing Dr. Lubitz for a cosmetic concern (including mole removal) may be required to have a referral from their physician in the specific case that Dr. Lubitz determines that a mole or other skin lesion should be removed for medical reasons.