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Moles: Diagnosis and treatment


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 is:

  • Bothersome (rubs against clothing, etc.)

  • Unattractive to a patient

  • Suspicious (could be skin cancer)

A dermatologist can usually remove a mole during an office visit. Most removals require only one office visit. Occasionally, a patient may need to return for a second visit.

Whether it's during one or two visits, a dermatologist can safely and easily remove a mole. A dermatologist will use one of these procedures:

  • Surgical excision: The dermatologist cuts out the entire mole and stitches the skin closed if necessary. Your mole will also be looked at under a microscope by a specially trained doctor. This is done to check for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, your dermatologist will let you know.

  • Surgical shave: The dermatologist uses a surgical blade to remove the mole. In most cases, a specially trained doctor will examine your mole under a microscope. If cancer cells are found, your dermatologist will let you know.

Never try to remove a mole at home

While it may seem more convenient to shave off or cut out a mole yourself, there are three very good reasons a dermatologist should remove it:

  • Skin cancer: If the mole contains skin cancer, some of the cancer cells can stay in the skin and even spread.

  • Scarring: You can disfigure your skin causing a scar.

  • Infection: A dermatologist uses sterile equipment to prevent 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 could be a sign of melanoma, the most-serious type of skin cancer.

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