Understanding Mole Excision

Moles are skin growths that are darker than the surrounding skin. They are common and are not normally a problem. But moles can sometimes cause problems. In certain cases, a type of skin cancer called melanoma can grow in or near the mole. In other cases, a mole may be bothersome. In either case, removal (excision) of a problem mole can be done.

Why mole excision is done

Your healthcare provider may do a mole excision for one or more reasons:

  • Part or all of a suspicious mole may be removed to check it for cancer.

  • A mole that is constantly rubbed by clothing or irritated in other ways may be removed to help make you more comfortable.

  • A mole that is large or on a visible body part can be removed for cosmetic reasons.

How mole excision is done

Removing a mole is often done in the healthcare provider’s office. You usually go home the same day.

  • The area is cleaned. It is then injected with medicine (anesthetic) to numb it.

  • The provider cuts out the mole. He or she may also remove a certain amount of healthy tissue around the mole to make sure the margins are clear of any dangerous cells.

  • If needed, the incision may be closed with sutures or staples.

Risks of mole excision

  • Damage to nearby nerves

  • Infection of the incision

  • Keloid or too much scar tissue forms

  • Pain in the area

  • Recurrence of the mole

  • Scarring

Preventing skin cancer

To help protect yourself from skin cancer:

  • Check your skin regularly for changes in your moles and for new moles.

  • See your healthcare provider if you have a mole that bleeds, itches, or changes in size, color, or shape.

  • If you have many moles or have a family history of skin cancer, have moles checked by your healthcare provider at least once a year.

  • Use clothing and sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from the sun.

  • Never use tanning beds.