Have you got moles on your skin? You’re not alone. Most Australians have between 10 to 40 moles at various locations on their faces and bodies.
Are you thinking about undergoing mole removal? Perhaps the very idea sends shivers down your spine. Relax! At Pymble Dermatology, our mole removal Sydney dermatologists have years of experience in dealing with moles. They also know all the signs of melanoma and skin cancer and can provide expert health care.
And just to put your mind at rest a little more, here’s an explanation of what happens when you undergo mole removal at our Sydney practice.
Why you may need to remove a mole.
Most moles are perfectly harmless and are no cause for alarm. You can leave them alone, and they won’t adversely affect your health.
But if a mole bothers you – either because you don’t like the way it looks, or because it causes physical discomfort – you can opt to have it removed.
Sometimes, a mole may actually be a harmful melanoma, in which case, it should be removed without delay by a dermatologist.
Whatever the reason for removing a mole – be it cosmetic, practical or medical – the procedure should be carried out by an experienced dermatologist.
Mole removal: what you can expect.
The mole removal procedure is similar for everyone.
Even if your mole removal is for cosmetic reasons, your dermatologist will begin by thoroughly examining the mole. In most cases, a skin biopsy will be performed. This will ensure that your doctor doesn’t miss anything.
A skin biopsy involves having cells or samples taken from the mole. These are then sent to our lab for analysis to check if there is anything unusual about the mole. If it’s a melanoma, your dermatologist will take the right course of action immediately.
The biopsy can be performed in a number of ways. The most common skin biopsy methods include:
- Shaving off the mole with a razor-like instrument
- Removing part of the mole with a circular instrument
- Removing the entire mole with a scalpel.
In many cases, the biopsy and the mole removal are one and the same procedure and can often be performed in a single visit.
The mole removal procedure.
Before the biopsy and/or mole removal begin, your dermatologist will measure, map and often photograph your mole. At our practice, our northern Sydney dermatological doctors always take the time to talk you through the procedure and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Mole removal methods.
There are two safe and effective methods available for mole removal. Your skin doctor will determine which method is best for your mole.
- The surgical shave
If the mole is minimally invasive, your dermatologist may elect to remove it by shaving it off at skin level. Before any shaving is performed, the surface of your skin will be cleaned. The mole and surrounding area will then be numbed using a local anaesthetic. Next, the dermatologist will use a surgical blade to shave off the mole.
Stitches are not necessary when this method is used.
- Surgical excision
For deeper moles and melanomas, the entire mole will be cut out.
Once again, before the removal operation begins, the surface of the skin will be cleaned. The mole and surrounding area will be numbed using a local anaesthetic. The dermatologist will then use a scalpel-like instrument to cut out the mole. If the mole is cancerous, the doctor may also cut out some of the tissue surrounding the mole. The local anaesthetic will ensure you don’t feel any pain during the operation.
The dermatologist will close the incision with a few stitches. This should take a few minutes. Thanks to the effects of the anaesthetic, this part of the operation should be painless.
The time taken to perform either of the above procedures will depend on the size and depth of the mole. Some moles can be removed in minutes, while others may take up to an hour.
No matter the type of mole or the removal method used, your skin should heal relatively quickly. If the mole was small and not very deep, it should heal within a few days. If the dermatologist had to cut deeper to remove the mole, then healing may take a few weeks. Stitches are generally taken out after about two weeks.
It’s normal to experience some itching or soreness while the skin is healing. In some cases, the mole may start to re-grow. If this occurs, let your dermatologist know immediately.
How will my skin look after the mole removal procedure?
Most patients want to know how their skin will look after the mole removal procedure. In particular, they often want to know if they’ll be left with a permanent scar.
The appearance of the skin after the procedure will depend on the following factors:
- The type of mole you had removed.
- The method used to remove it.
- Your age (younger people tend to heal faster and experience less scarring).
- The attention you paid to aftercare of the wound.
Your dermatologist will recommend the best ways to keep the wound area clean and soothed.
If you didn’t require stitches, your dermatologist will probably advise you to run some water mixed with a mild soap over the wound. This should be done daily, and the area should be patted dry very, very gently. It’s important to keep the wound moist, so your doctor will most likely instruct you to cover it with a moisturising ointment, such as petroleum jelly, and then apply a fresh bandage. This can help to minimise scar formation.
Aftercare is different if you had stitches. Your skin doctor will tell you to keep the wound area dry and refrain from physical exercise until the stitches come out.
In any event, it’s highly likely that you will have some scarring after mole removal. Your dermatologist will be able to recommend ways to reduce your scar, if it bothers you.
The mole removal experts.
At Pymble Dermatology, our friendly team of northern Sydney dermatology doctors are experts at mole removal. If you would like more information about having a mole removed, please contact our practice today to make an appointment.