Moles are clusters of skin cells, called melanocytes, that produce pigment. Most adult women and men have around 40 moles on their bodies and faces. Some are small, some are flat, some are raised.
Most moles are benign, which means they aren’t, and never will be, cancerous. Still, if you have a fair complexion or if skin cancer runs in your family, your moles may make you anxious. You might even think that if you removed all your moles, you could guarantee that you’d be skin-cancer free
At Specialists in Dermatology, our expert dermatologist team includes fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons. Mohs surgery is a special sort of procedure that cures most skin cancer. However, we also offer benign mole removal at our offices in The Woodlands, Texas, and Houston, Texas.
Should you remove all your moles, some of them, or only the cancerous ones? The answers are below.
Are you worried about skin cancer?
Although we encourage you to have a healthy awareness of skin cancer, which includes annual screenings, removing all \your moles doesn’t 100% remove your risk for skin cancer. In fact, 70-80% of skin-cancer lesions first appear on apparently normal skin, not moles.
Instead of removing all your moles as a prophylactic treatment, we recommend monthly self-screenings, at which time you examine every inch of your skin. That includes hard-to-see areas, such as behind your ears and between your toes.
Although most skin cancers develop as a result of damage to skin cell DNA by the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, not all skin cancer is sun-related. Some skin cancers may be caused by genetics or other factors.
Do you simply want clearer skin?
Even if you aren’t overly worried about skin cancer, you may still dislike your moles. Some facial moles are embraced as being “beauty marks,” but they may not make you feel beautiful.
If you have one or more moles that you’d like to remove for aesthetic reasons, we evaluate your moles and surrounding skin to determine which type of mole removal is best for you: shaving or excision.
It’s important to note that mole removal, especially excision, often leaves a scar. During your consultation, we predict whether your mole removal will scar your skin.
If you’re looking into mole removal for aesthetic reasons only, you may decide not to remove your mole. Or, you may opt for other treatments that can later reduce the appearance of a scar, particularly if it’s small.
Have your moles started to change?
If your old moles start to grow, become ragged-looking, or change color, they may have changed from a benign mole to a dysplastic one. Dysplastic moles aren’t necessarily cancerous, but they should be watched and possibly removed.
You may also have noticed a new lesion on your skin that’s worrisome. Always contact us when a mole has any of the ABCDE characteristics of cancerous changes:
A - asymmetrical appearance
B - borders that look ragged
C - more than one color in the mole
D - a diameter larger than a pencil eraser
E - moles that evolve or change
If your mole turns out to be non cancerous, we may recommend a watch-and-wait approach unless you would prefer we move it. If the mole is cancerous, we recommend Mohs surgery.
Our medical assistants are available for any questions you have about moles. If you’re worried about your moles or would like one or more of them removed, schedule your appointment by calling our office or using our convenient online contact form.