At Westover Hills Dermatology in San Antonio, TX, we are passionate about helping our clients correct skin concerns to help them improve their skin health, confidence, and quality of life. We have people come in with a wide range of concerns, including concerns related to moles. Today, we’re taking a look at how to tell if a mole is dangerous, who usually qualifies for mole removal, and much more. Keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about this common skin growth.
How Do You Know If a Mole Is Dangerous?
The only way to know for sure if a mole is dangerous is to sit down with a mole removal expert and discuss your symptoms, concerns, goals, and health history. In the meantime, you can get a fairly good idea about whether you should be concerned about a mole by considering the ABCDE rule of thumb. Regarding moles, “ABCDE” is a mnemonic device to help people remember:
Generally, there may be a cause for concern if a mole is asymmetrical or the border of the mole is not well-defined. Additionally, your mole may be cancerous if it is made up of multiple colors or has a diameter exceeding six millimeters. Finally, you may have a cancerous mole if it is evolving. For instance, you should schedule a consultation with a dermatologist right away if you notice that your mole is:
- Growing rapidly
- Changing color
- Changing shape
How Is a Cancerous Mole Diagnosed?
For a cancerous mole to be diagnosed accurately, a biopsy must be taken. A biopsy is a safe test performed by administering a local anesthetic to numb the area, then removing the mole. Once the mole is removed, it is tested to see if it is cancerous.
Am I a Good Candidate for Mole Removal?
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to be considered a good mole removal candidate if you have a mole that you are concerned about. Note that all concerns are valid. We don’t exclusively remove moles that are cancerous. We also remove moles that cause pain due to their location or moles that affect self-confidence negatively.
During your initial consultation, we will discuss your health, lifestyle, concerns, and desired outcome to verify that you qualify to have your mole removed. If we determine that removing your mole is a good idea, we will determine whether surgical excision or a surgical shave is a better fit for you.
Which Technique Is Right for Me?
In the case of surgical excision, you will probably be considered a good candidate if your mole is on your torso, arm, or leg. However, the size and depth of the mole must also be strongly considered when determining whether someone is a good candidate for surgical excision. During surgical excision, the entire mole is removed, and you should not anticipate feeling any pain because the area will be numbed with a local anesthetic.
As a general rule, you can expect a surgical shave to be a better mole removal technique for you if your goal is to improve your appearance or mitigate your risk of developing skin cancer.
What Can I Expect During My Recovery Process?
Generally, you can expect your recovery process to take two to three weeks to complete. How long your skin will need to heal depends on several factors, including the size of the mole being removed and your overall health. After your surgical or shave excision, we will bandage the excision site after applying petroleum jelly to the area. It is extremely important that when you get home, you take excellent care of your wound during the first few days.
For example, you must keep the wound covered for a few days, and you must clean it daily. Furthermore, it is extremely important that you keep your excision area moist by applying petroleum jelly to it every day. You should not expect your usual routine, like work or school, to be disrupted during your recovery process.
Can I Remove a Mole Myself?
No, it is not a good idea to remove a mole yourself. You absolutely should not try to cut or shave your mole off yourself. Similarly, it is not advisable to purchase anything that is marketed as a mole removal laser or pen. You may not remove the entire mole, and you open yourself up to a significant risk of infection. Furthermore, you may form a large scar.
Another compelling reason to not attempt to remove a mole yourself is that the mole may be cancerous. If you don’t get the entire mole, your cancer may metastasize. On the other hand, you may be erroneously diagnosed with cancer if you go to a dermatologist after attempting home laser mole removal.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today
To determine definitively if a mole is dangerous, you need to attend an initial consultation with a mole removal expert. If you are concerned about one or more moles, drop us a line now at Westover Hills Dermatology in San Antonio, TX to schedule an initial consultation and find out if you should have your moles removed.