Practically everybody has moles or freckles or something similar. We never used to give them much thought but nowadays, with a strong focus on skin cancer, we do tend to be a bit more focused on checking them.
Moles are just a collection of pigment-producing cells. These are known as melanocytes and are always found near the top layers of skin. There's no fixed rule on what moles look like. They may be brown, black, flesh-coloured or even blue. Some are flat and some are raised.
Totally natural, the number and type of moles we get are influenced by factors such as sun exposure and genetics. Some moles are with us from the day we are born, whilst others develop during childhood and early adulthood.
This is where it gets tricky. A skin cancer doctor will tell you to get your moles checked if they change colour or shape. That's good advice but, before you panic, bear in mind that moles also change due to hormonal changes.
Let's say you've had your moles checked and they are non-cancerous. There is no need to remove them for medical purposes, but perhaps you are still considering removal for cosmetic purposes. That's definitely an option and treatment is readily available.
Your best way forward is to visit a skin clinic. It's important to ensure that the mole is not dangerous and that removal is safe. Your skin specialist will take several factors into account, such as the size and location of the mole. It may be that the mole is rubbing on your clothes and causing discomfort
These days, mole removal is fast and easy. There are a couple of different methods used, including Laser Mole Removal and Radio Frequency.
Laser Mole Removal is very popular, extremely safe and fast. Generally, a local anaesthetic is administered before treatment begins. After the mole has been lasered a scab will form. This will fall off in about a week, leaving minimal or no scarring.
Laser treatment is ideal for benign (non-cancerous) moles. It is not considered surgery and the procedure takes just a few minutes. There's no bleeding because the mole is not completely removed; rather it is flattened.
The treatment area looks a bit like a skin graze. The doctor will usually cover it with ointment and it will quickly go through the healing process.
Radio Frequency works in a similar way to 'shave off' or flatten the mole. With no cutting required the skin is sealed as the mole is removed. This minimises bleeding and leaves little to no scarring. As with laser mole removal, one treatment is usually all that's needed.
The main difference between these two methods of mole removal is that radio frequency uses radio waves rather than laser beams.
It's quite likely that you've heard of moles being 'frozen' off using liquid nitrogen. This method is suitable for skin surface moles. It is an outpatient procedure, generally leaving a small blister which will dry out and fall off.
For deeply-rooted moles or moles that may not be benign, your skin specialist will quite likely recommend excision. A local anaesthetic will be administered and the doctor will use a scalpel or surgical scissors to cut the mole out. It's likely some stitches will be needed.
If you've been considering mole removal you may well have noticed DIY kits in the pharmacy. Attempting to remove moles at home is not recommended. It's a specialist job for many reasons, including safety, effective removal and minimal scarring. If the mole turned out to be cancerous, home removal could very well speed up the mole's growth.
Use Bookwell to find skin specialists in your locality. Making an appointment is easy and you can be sure of getting the best possible advice and treatment.