How to Self-Check Moles and When to Seek Removal.
We’ve all heard the dangers of too much sun and the warning signs of skin cancer. Despite this, you may have questions about when to seek a physician’s help when it comes to moles. Moles are small to medium shaped vascular growths on the skin. They may appear as raised or flat areas of tissue that can range from nearly colorless to brown. They can occur anywhere on the body and you may be born with them or develop them through your lifetime. While most moles are harmless, it’s important to practice good self-care by regularly inspecting any moles for changes that would warrant a visit to your physician. The warning signs for moles can be remembered by the first 5 letters of the alphabet:
- A is for asymmetry. Moles should be approximately equal in size on all sides.
- B is for borders-mole borders should be clearly defined.
- C is for color-moles vary in shades but a change in color or a mole that is white, black or blue requires evaluation.
- D is for diameter. Moles that grow in size are a concern.
- E is for evolving. Any change in a mole’s appearance should be reported to your physician, to include peeling, scabbing or bleeding.
If you have a mole you are concerned about, your physician may recommend removal. Removal of moles can be accomplished by several different methods. Your doctor will be able to help choose which method is best for your needs during a consult. There are three minimally invasive means to mole removal.
- Shave excision is used for raised moles. This procedure involves the application of a local anesthetic, following which your physician will remove the mole with a scalpel.
- Small moles may require the use of a punch biopsy. Local anesthetic will be applied and a small device will be used to remove a small cylinder piece of skin around the mole.
- Flat or larger skin moles are removed with excision surgery. Local anesthetic will be applied, and your surgeon will remove the mole from the area. This type of removal does generally call for the use of one to two stitches to close the incision wound.
All three removal processes are minimally invasive, and most patients feel able to return to their daily activities following the procedure. With proper aftercare, infection risk is minimal. While most moles are not malignant, melanoma is becoming a more common occurrence. Like any health concern, early treatment often results in a more desirable outcome. If you have moles that you are concerned about or notice any of the changes listed, please contact us for a comprehensive evaluation.