Moles: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome

Moles: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome

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How do dermatologists tell whether a spot is a mole?

A dermatologist’s trained eye can often tell whether a spot is a mole.

How do dermatologists treat moles?

Most moles do not require treatment. A dermatologist will remove a mole that:

  • Bothers a patient (rubs against clothing, etc.).
  • A patient finds unattractive.
  • Could be skin cancer.

A dermatologist can remove a mole during an office visit. A few moles will require a second visit. Whether it's during 1 or 2 visits, a dermatologist can safely and easily remove a mole. A dermatologist will use 1 of these procedures:


  • Surgical excision: The dermatologist cuts out the entire mole and stitches the skin closed. If the dermatologist suspects that the mole contains cancer, the dermatologist will send the mole to a lab. It will be examined under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.
  • Surgical shave: The dermatologist uses a surgical blade to remove the mole.

Never try to shave off a mole at home.

Here’s why you should never try to shave off a mole at home:

  • If the mole contains skin cancer, some of the cancer cells can stay in the skin — and even spread.
  • You can disfigure your skin, causing a scar or other permanent reminder.
  • You can cause an infection.

Outcome

After a mole is removed, the skin will heal. If the mole grows back, immediately make another appointment to see your dermatologist. This is a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

Learn more about moles:

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