Recognise and remove dangerous moles
At The Skin Centre our specialists are skilled and practised in recognising and removing dangerous moles.To assist in your diagnosis and follow-up, The Skin Centre offers the use of epiluminescence microscopy to help check for melanoma. The Skin Centre specialists are also skilled at removing unsightly or unwanted moles without the need for sutures. Even on the face, many moles can be removed without sutures and with almost no sign of where they were. Book in for a consultation and let us put your mind at ease.
What is a mole?
Moles are common skin lesions. Moles are benign in nature, but a malignant melanoma (cancerous mole) may arise within a mole.
Dr Paul Salmon
What do moles look like?
Moles may be flat or protruding. They vary in colour from pink or flesh tones to dark brown or black. Although mostly round or oval in shape, they are sometimes unusual shapes. They range in size from a couple of millimetres to several centimetres in diameter.
The number of moles a person has depends on genetic factors and on sun exposure. Most white-skinned New Zealanders have 20-50 of them. People with a greater number of moles have a higher risk of developing melanoma than those with few moles, especially if they have over 100 of them.
When do moles appear?
One or more moles may be present at birth. More frequently, moles arise during childhood or early adult life. Exposure to sunlight increases the number of moles. Teenagers and young adults tend to have the greatest number of moles and there are fewer in later life because some of them slowly fade away.
Why remove a mole?
Although most moles are harmless and can be safely left alone, moles may be treated under the following conditions:
- Possible malignancy: a mole that has bled, has an unusual shape, is growing rapidly or changing colour. These are sometimes known as ‘ugly duckling’ moles and may turn out to be melanoma.
- Nuisance moles: a mole that is irritated by clothing, comb or razor.
- Cosmetic reasons: the mole is unsightly.
Treating a protruding mole is simple using a procedure called a shave biopsy. After numbing the skin with local anaesthetic the doctor removes the projecting part of the mole with a scalpel. The wound heals to leave a flat white mark, but sometimes the colour remains the same as the original mole.
Shave biopsy is sometimes used to remove a flat brown patch or freckle for pathological examination.
Excisional biopsy is necessary if the mole is flat or melanoma is suspected. The full thickness of the skin is removed and the wound is stitched. The resulting scar may be just a thin line, but is sometimes more noticeable than the mole was.
What is epiluminescence microscopy?
This essential tool helps dermatologists, plastic surgeons, general practitioners and other health professionals attempting early diagnosis of melanoma. Using this technique to evaluate pigmented lesions, the abnormal structural features of melanoma can be identified, borderline lesions may be closely observed and benign lesions can be confidently diagnosed without the need for biopsy. Dermoscopy is also essential in the skin check process, especially to help with the diagnosis of non-pigmented skin lesions and inflammatory dermatoses.