Every individual’s skin has its own unique features and characteristics, but one of the most common skin features is the mole. Nearly everyone has at least one mole, and in fact, most light-skinned people have between 10 and 40 moles on their body. For many of our patients at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta (DAA), though, their moles are somewhat of a question mark—are they dangerous? Is it better to have them removed or to leave them alone? The short answer is, “It depends,” and below we shed a little light on the specifics of mole removal, when it’s necessary, and when it’s not.
Mole Removal for Medical Reasons
The majority of moles are harmless. However, skin cancer is often signaled by unusual moles, and for this reason, many patients are concerned that their moles are dangerous. The best way to detect whether a mole is cancerous is to schedule your annual skin cancer screening with us. Our experienced providers can determine whether a particular mole is showing signs of potential skin cancer, and can use the appropriate tests and procedures to reach a diagnosis. If a mole is determined to be cancerous, the dermatologist can remove it during a simple in-office procedure. Depending on the mole itself and your individual situation, your mole may be removed using a specialized laser treatment. If laser mole removal is not the best option for you, your mole may instead be removed by surgical excision (cutting the mole from the skin and using sutures to close the wound) or by surgical shave (surgically removing the mole along the surface of the skin).
Mole Removal for Cosmetic Reasons
For some patients, even though it doesn’t pose a health risk, a particular mole can be unwanted and unattractive, or it can be uncomfortable (like a mole that frequently rubs against the seams of clothing). For most of these patients, mole removal can be performed not for medical reasons but for cosmetic reasons. The recommended mole removal method depends on many factors, like the size and characteristics of the mole as well as cosmetic considerations, but just as when it’s performed for the purpose of treating skin cancer, cosmetic mole removal can typically be completed in a single visit to our office.
For patients who are curious about whether they should have their mole removed, the bottom line is this: there is no medical reason to have a mole removed unless your dermatologist suspects skin cancer, but if you would like your mole to be removed for cosmetic reasons, the procedure is typically safe and simple and carries little risk to your health. Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your mole removal options. Or, to learn more about mole removal and the other services we offer, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.