Mole Removal Procedures
Our skin grows many different types of benign and malignant tumours, commonly called ‘moles’.
Compound moles have cells in the dermis and epidermis. Their colour varies from normal skin colour through to almost black. They may have an irregular pigment pattern with black spots and dark hairs. On the face, these can cause self-consciousness, with the hair follicles also prone to infection. Women may pluck the hairs, but men risk cutting the top off the moles during shaving.
Intradermal moles sit in the dermis only and tend to be soft and fleshy. They can be raised up to 5mm, from skin colour to dark brown.
Dysplastic moles look like compound moles, but with a more irregular pigment and possibly a more irregular edge. They may also be larger. Because of their irregular pigmentation and edges, they can look like melanomas, so many of these are excised and examined ’for safety’ to ensure they do not harbour any melanoma.
Halo moles have had the pigment around the edges destroyed by the body’s immune system leaving a pale halo around a dark centre. These uncommon moles are benign and tend to occur in adolescents.
Blue moles have a blue/black colour, which is quite dense and can be confused with melanoma, so are often removed as a precaution.
About 50% of malignant melanomas begin in existing moles. Pigmented solar keratoses (non-malignant sunspots) may have a crusty surface, so they usually appear different to moles, but some can look like melanomas and may be removed as a precaution. Most are benign and can be left alone or kept under observation. If you have many abnormal moles, you should have an annual skin check or a Molemap so that changes in size, shape and colour can be detected.
Any new skin growth or changing mole needs to be checked by your GP, who may recommend a biopsy or complete removal. Your GP may refer you to a specialist surgeon if the lesion is large or on your face, to get the best possible result.