Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can one remove moles without getting surgery?"
I have a prominent mole on my temple that I would like to remove, but if it leaves the typical surgical scar, then it's not worth it to me. Are there other ways of removing moles that don't involve surgery?
Moles are collections of pigmented cells, called melanocytes, that collect under the skin and are typically dark colored. In addition to being cosmetically unappealing for some people, moles also carry a low risk of turning into melanoma, which is a serious type of skin cancer. Most primary care doctors and dermatologist would not recommend routine removal of moles unless there is concern for skin cancer. This is because removing the mole generally involves surgery and this will leave a scar which might be equally undesirable to the mole itself from a cosmetic standpoint. Although numerous mole removing creams and treatments are available on the market, most of these probably do not work very well. Additionally, if a mole has gotten large enough that it is concerning to you, then you should probably rule out that it is cancerous. Unfortunately the only way to rule out that a mole is cancerous is to perform a surgery to completely remove it. Signs that you should look for that should prompt you to get a mole evaluated include: if the size is greater than 6 mm in diameter, if the borders are irregular or uneven, if there are multiple colors in the mole, or if the mole is growing or changing rapidly.
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