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Understanding Mole Excision

Moles are skin growths that are darker than the nearby skin. They're common and not normally a problem. But moles can sometimes cause problems. In this case, removal (excision) of a problem mole can be done.

Why mole excision is done

Your healthcare provider may do a mole excision for 1 or more reasons:

  • Part or all of a suspicious mole may be removed to check it for cancer.

  • A mole that is constantly rubbed by clothing or irritated in other ways may be removed to help make you more comfortable.

  • A mole that is large or on a visible body part can be removed for cosmetic reasons.

How mole excision is done

Removing a mole is often done in the healthcare provider’s office. You stay awake for the procedure and usually go home the same day.

  • The area is cleaned. A tiny needle is then used to inject a numbing medicine into the skin around the mole.

  • The healthcare provider cuts out the mole. An edge or margin of healthy tissue around the mole may also be removed to make sure no pre-cancer or cancer cells are left behind.

  • If needed, the incision may be closed with sutures or staples.

Risks of mole excision

  • Damage to nearby nerves

  • Infection of the incision

  • Keloid or too much scar tissue forms

  • Pain in the area

  • Incomplete removal of the mole, which means more surgery may be needed

  • The mole might come back

  • Scarring

Preventing skin cancer

To help protect yourself from skin cancer:

  • Check your skin regularly for changes in your moles and for new moles.

  • See your healthcare provider if you have a mole that bleeds, itches, or changes in size, color, or shape.

  • If you have many moles or have a family history of skin cancer, have moles checked by your healthcare provider at least once a year.

  • Use clothing and sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from the sun.

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses when in the sun to protect your face, eyes, and ears.

  • Never use tanning beds or lamps.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2019
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