Moles FAQs

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  • Moles FAQ
  • Is mole removal carried out under a general anaesthetic?

    Mole removal is only carried out under local anaesthetic. It's a very quick and straightforward procedure and takes about 20 minutes.

  • Is it possible to have a non-cancerous mole removed?

    It is possible to have non-cancerous moles removed purely for aesthetic reasons. A dermatologist or plastic surgeon would be able to do this for you. Obviously, anything that is potentially removed from the skin can leave a scar, but moles are commonly removed for cosmetic purposes.

  • Why do people get more moles with age?

    It's very common to get more moles as you get older. And it's very common to get moles until about the age of about 40 or so. Moles also increase in number and become darker during pregnancy and during hormonal changes. But moles tend to develop over time, predominantly due to cumulative UV exposure over the years.

  • What’s the best way to monitor my moles?

    Sometimes it can be difficult to monitor, you can get a partner to have a look at them on a regular basis on your back, for example, or take photographs yourself and look for any changes. Alternatively, you can come and see a specialist and they can monitor it for you on a regular basis.

  • Are all Dermatologists qualified to assess moles?

    It can be important to see a mole specialist to be able to determine whether a mole is abnormal or cancerous. Sometimes, a lot of the time, a biopsy or surgical procedure isn't needed to find out. It can be done on either visual inspection and, in particular, using dermoscopy, which is a particular type of magnifying light which uses cross-polarised light, or immersion dermoscopy, to determine whether a mole is cancerous or not.

  • How important is it to see someone quickly if I am worried about my mole?

    It's important to seek medical attention quickly if you think that your mole is changing or if it shows any features that show that it's changing its size, its shape, or its colour.

  • How should I check my own moles ?

    It is a good idea to perform self-examination of moles. And the best way to examine your own skin and do your own mole checks is ideally after a bath or a shower, in good light, with the help of a full-length mirror. And people should be aiming to do this once a month. In terms of what you're looking out for, you are looking initially for any changes within your moles, anything that changes in its size, its shape, or its colour, or anything new that appears on the skin, or anything that looks completely out of keeping with your usual skin. So for example, if you have a lot of pale brown moles and you suddenly develop one that is either very, very dark or very, very light, that's out of keeping for yourself, that's a sign to get things checked out.

  • What are the treatments for cancerous moles or skin cancer?

    There are lots of treatments for skin cancer nowadays. They range from cream treatments and more destructive treatments to surgery and radiotherapy.

  • How are cancerous moles diagnosed?

    If you see a dermatologist, and the dermatologist is concerned that your mole may be cancerous, they will perform a biopsy. And they will remove the mole in its entirety. The sample is then sent off to the lab and analysed, and if there are any worrying cells or if there is signs of melanoma, usually then a second surgery is performed and a little bit more tissue is taken.

  • What is involved involved with a mole biopsy?

    So when a mole is removed, it is sent for biopsy, and biopsy simply means that the skin is tested and looked at under a microscope to see if there are any abnormal cells.

  • What is the difference between a mole and an insect bite?

    It's often quite easy to distinguish between a mole and an insect bite. A mole is usually brown and fleshy. An insect bite usually is red and comes up quite quickly and also goes away quickly, whereas a mole stays around and doesn't disappear by itself, usually.

  • What is the importance of seeing a specialist early?

    The quicker that moles are caught, the better, because they often can be treated at an earlier stage and have a higher success rate for cure.

  • What is the process for surgical mole removal?

    Surgical removal normally was quite straightforward. It's usually done under local anaesthetic, so you are usually awake for the procedure. An injection goes into the skin to make it numb and we remove the mole. Sometimes stitches are used, but sometimes they don't need to be. And then you have a dressing on and you just need to keep it dry for a day or two. And then you can resume activities, normal activities, after that, normally.

  • What should I do if I am worried about a mole?

    If you notice a change in your mole, it is a good idea to see a consultant dermatologist. Consultant dermatologists are extremely experienced, they look at moles a lot. They will use a tool called a dermatoscope to actually get a good idea of what the pigment network looks like. There are a number of ways you can come and see a dermatologist. One option is to go by your GP and a GP can do a referral. The alternative way is to actually find a dermatologist that you want to go and see in the private sector and you can call and make that appointment through their office.

  • What should I do if I am worried about my mole?

    If you are worried about mole changing shape or colour, it's worth going to see your GP in the first instance, or a specialist and getting them to have a look at it. If there's any concerns, they can refer on or treat it by removing the mole and sending for analysis.

  • When should I see a specialist about my mole?

    A good basic rule of thumb to know if a mole is abnormal is the ABCDE rule. So, for example, if the mole is asymmetrical, the border is irregular or notched, the colour is dark or changing, or there are set multiple colours within it, or it's enlarging, then it doesn't necessarily mean you have anything bad, but it's worth getting to a doctor to check it out.

  • Why is mole checking important?

    Mole monitoring is really important as part of your preventative health screening. Patients often ask about what the best way to monitor their moles is, and the ABCDE rule can be quite useful. So, A is the Asymmetry. So, does a mole look the same on both sides? Can you draw a line through it horizontally and vertically, and does it look the same? If it's asymmetrical, that is a bit of a warning sign. B is the Border of the mole. And the way that I think about that is, "Can I get a pen and can I evenly trace around the edge of the mole? Or are the edges quite jagged and you can't quite make out what's going on?" If a mole is quite irregular in its edges and you can't get that nice even border around it, that's a worrying sign. C is the Colour. And the colour of the mole, if there are more than two or three colours within a mole, that's an alarm sign. That's a sign you should go and see a dermatologist. D is the Diameter. And a mole, really, that's bigger than about half a centimetre, six millimetres, should be reviewed. And then E is Evolving Change. So, anything that changes in its size, its shape, or its colour, should be looked at.

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