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.
Products that remove moles can cause serious side effects
These products can cause scarring and delay a skin cancer diagnosis. Find out what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends if you want to remove a mole or other skin growth.
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.