Not all moles are cancerous and harmful. However, sometimes the moles pose a cosmetic problem and treatment is required. The most important thing about mole removal is that it must be completely excised with a rim of normal tissue around it. If the moles are removed completely, they do not recur. Once the mole has been removed, it must be sent to the pathologist for analysis to ensure that it is not malignant. The following techniques are available for mole removal
Shave excision: This small surgical procedure is done in the doctor's office; the area of the skin is numbed and cleaned. Following this, the mole is literally shaved off as close to the skin as possible. This technique is useful when other methods can not be used or if there are other delicate structures nearby. Once the mole is shaved, a sterile dressing is applied. Moles removed this way have the highest chance of recurring. Shaving is best for benign skin lesions.
Punch biopsy: Physicians now have available a variety of instruments which can remove the mole in its entirety. Small circular instruments with a punch at the end in various sizes are available today. The skin area is numbed and the mole is removed by the punch. The punch has a sharp knife at its end and literally removes the entire mole. This method is effective when the moles are superficial. The technique is applicable in most areas of the body except the face. Sometimes after a punch biopsy, the hole defect has to be closed with a couple of sutures.
Excisional surgery. Sometimes the mole is large, irregular and confined in a corner or a crease and not easily accessible for removal using the above methods. In such cases surgery is another alternative. The skin is frozen and using a knife the entire mole is removed. Sutures are almost always used to close the skin defect. The procedure is most invasive but does remove the entire mole. The chances of recurrence are very low and the specimen is removed completely.
Recently lasers have been used to remove moles. Laser is effective for the small superficial moles but deeper moles can be difficult. The heat generated from the laser is absorbed by the mole which then fragments the mole. The fragmented mole is then later removed by scavenging cells of the body. The technique does not require sutures or incisions. To prevent pain, the skin is numbed with a local anesthetic. The major disadvantage of laser is that there is no tissue available for analysis. Lasers are generally used to treat superficial and benign skin lesions. The technique is also the most expensive.
All the above procedures can be done in a doctor's office in less than 20-30 minutes. There is usually no downtime and the pain is minimal afterwards. Once a mole is removed, it is important to follow up with the physician and get the final results of the mole's pathology.