Moles can sometimes be hereditary, or they can develop due to a reaction to strong UV light. Whatever the cause, it’s a good idea to know the difference between a stable mole and an unstable one - i.e. one that has the potential to become malignant.
It doesn’t necessarily matter whether a mole is raised or flat against the skin. Similarly, if a mole colour and outline are both even then it’s unlikely that it’s going to cause a problem. However, if your mole has a diameter of more than one centimetre, or if it has irregular pigmentation or an irregular outline, then it is referred to as a “clinically atypical mole”. In this instance you should seek advice from your GP, as it could become malignant if stimulated by the sun.
What are the treatment options?
It is not actually that easy to remove a mole, and whatever treatment you opt for there are a number of factors and after-effects to consider.
If a mole is removed with surgery, you are more than likely to be left with a scar that’s more than double the length of the actual mole. Unfortunately, this is an inevitable consequence and is worth bearing in mind if the mole concerned is somewhere that’s particularly on show.
In some cases a client can have their mole shaved from the skin, which thankfully leaves only a small mark and can therefore achieve better cosmetic results. However, this treatment may result in re-growth of any hair that was present in the mole, as it does not get rid of the hair follicles.
New resurfacing lasers can be the best option for moles - or compound naevi - that are on the face, as the procedure leaves very few scars or marks behind. This treatment may not be available for those with clinically atypical moles, however, as dermatologists will be cautious about the laser potentially stimulating the mole further. Although there has been no medical record of this happening yet, your practitioner will not want to take that risk.
Generally speaking, if a mole is clinically typical then a small biopsy will be taken from it to assess whether there are any signs of early malignant change. With your practitioner, you will then discuss your options - and any relevant contributing factors - before both reaching a decision about what to do next.
Laser mole removal treatment tends to result in very few complications, however you will probably be left with a small wound that will need dressing. This should clear up in around a week and is perfectly normal. Another after effect might be that the treated area of skin feels slightly raised or slightly sunken after treatment, but this will gradually blend over time.
If the mole does reappear - which can happen as the treatment doesn’t remove the root - then you can seek treatment again. Similarly, you may find that pigmented moles re-pigment after the removal treatment.
In terms of caring for the skin, you should wear an SPF 30 sunscreen for six months after your treatment, to protect the sensitive area from exposure to the sun.
This page is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.