Do you have moles that you want removed? Wondering what the common procedures are?

We asked the National Institutes of Health from some help with questions about moles.

We know: All About Mole Removal

What’s a mole?

Moles are growths on the skin that occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster with tissue surrounding them. They’re usually pink, tan, brown or flesh-colored. Moles can be flat or raised. They are usually round or oval and no larger than a pencil eraser. Most people have between 10 and 40 moles.

Are moles dangerous?

No, but they can be if they develop into skin cancer. Because of this, moles should be checked regularly by a doctor or nurse specialist, especially if they look unusual; grow larger; or change in color, outline, or in any other way.

What’s is the procedure for removing a mole?

For moles that are healthy but are being removed for cosmetic reasons, there are several procedures that can be performed in the doctor’s office, including:

  • Shave excision involves numbing the area around the mole and then using a small blade to shave off the mole close to your skin.
  • Surgery of the mole involves cutting out the mole and a surrounding margin of healthy skin.
  • Punch biopsy involves removing the mole with a small incision using a small cookie-cutter like instrument.
  • Lasers are not a preferred method for many doctors because the laser doesn’t penetrate deeply enough. However, other sources we checked say that laser removal is less likely to cause scarring. Check with your dermatologist.

What should I look for to determine if my moles may not be healthy?

Examine your skin regularly. Look for any signs of change, particularly a new black mole or a change in outline, shape, size, color (especially a new black area), or feel of an existing mole. Also, note any new, unusual, or "ugly-looking" moles. If your doctor has taken photos of your skin, compare these pictures with the way your skin looks on self-examination.

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