Mole Removal In Fort Myers & Naples, FL
When it comes to your health and skin cancer, it’s a good idea to be proactive and keep an eye out for dangerous moles. Moles can be linked to skin cancer. This is especially true if you have a family history of skin cancer linked to moles.
At Harris Dermatology in Fort Myers and Naples, your health is our top priority. During skin cancer screenings, our team of dedicated dermatologists combine advanced techniques with state-of-the-art technology to identify potentially dangerous moles.
If any moles require removal, you can rest assured that the procedure will be quick, comfortable, and painless.
What Are Moles?
Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the body and may sometimes be found in groups. Moles are natural skin growths that develop through pigment cells called melanocytes. They’re also extremely common — most adults have around 10 to 40 moles on their body.
Most moles are on areas above the waistline that receive the most sun exposure; the melanocytes to gather together, forming clusters that eventually lead to the development of moles.
Some people are naturally more prone to developing moles than others based on genetics, but sun exposure plays another large factor in how many moles a person is likely to have in their lifetime.
While most moles are non-cancerous (benign), those that are will be noticeable through changes in shape, size, color, or feel. If you are concerned about a mole on your body, reach out to us to schedule an evaluation.
Fort Myers & Naples Mole Removal
If a mole is irregular and needs to be evaluated further, either the entire mole is removed, or a small tissue sample taken, in order to biopsy it. If only a small section of tissue is taken and it is diagnosed as malignant, the entire mole will be removed, along with a margin of normal skin around it.
What Is Involved with a Mole Biopsy?
Mole biopsies are technically different than mole removal treatment. A doctor may perform a biopsy to learn more about a mole without having to remove the entire growth. The biopsy procedure is performed using a local anesthetic, just like is done for mole removal. In this procedure, though, the doctor uses a small instrument to remove a small sample of cells. Biopsies may involve the use of a circular "punch" device to remove a small section of tissue. Another technique is to use a razor-like instrument to shave off a small section of cells from the surface of the mole. For the record, a mole specialist who uses a scalpel to remove an entire mole will very likely send that tissue to the lab for pathology testing even if there are no signs of potential skin cancer. When dealing with this prevalent dermatologic disease, the term "better safe than sorry" applies.
Does Mole Biopsy Hurt?
You shouldn’t experience any pain during the biopsy due to the use of local anesthetic. You will feel a needle prick and a bit of burning and pressure, but this is tolerable and will not cause any major discomfort.
Mole biopsy is a highly common procedure, and dermatoligists perform hundreds of them each year. We will walk you through the entire procedure to make sure you feel comfortable throughout the process.
After the biopsy, it will take approximately two to three weeks for your skin to completely heal.
Are Moles Dangerous?
Although many moles are completely benign and pose no health risk, some people choose to remove them because they consider them unattractive. Regularly using a strong sunscreen, and monitoring birthmarks and moles for changes, is highly recommended. Our Fort Myers and Naples dermatologists can remove any mole that looks suspicious.
Types of Moles
There are different types of moles, including:
- Congenital mole (dark and irregularly shaped)
- Atypical mole (irregular color and undefined borders)
Most moles are harmless. However, some atypical moles have the potential to be or become malignant. Atypical moles may be asymmetrical, or have irregular borders and uneven coloring; they can be located anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun.
How Are Moles Diagnosed?
A thorough physician-performed examination of the skin is necessary to determine whether a mole needs immediate treatment or simply to be checked on a recurring basis. When a mole is diagnosed as atypical, it may need immediate treatment. A patient with an atypical mole may have a personal or family history of melanoma, which increases the possibility of malignancy.
When Should Moles Be Examined By A Physician?
A mole should be examined by a physician if it is:
- Larger than 6 millimeters
- Itching or bleeding
- Rapidly changing color, size or shape
- Located in a difficult-to-monitor area (such as the scalp)
Can Cancerous Moles Spread?
Cutting into a malignant mole will not cause cancer to spread. If the malignancy is caught early enough, this may be the only treatment needed.
Is Mole Removal Carried Out Under a General Anesthetic?
Mole removal, like mole biopsies, is usually performed with a local anesthetic. During the appointment, the doctor will cleanse the surface of the skin around the mole. The area is then injected with an anesthetic medication like Lidocaine. The injection may pinch and sting a little, but this lasts only a moment before the anesthetic takes effect. The use of the local anesthetic is sufficient to sustain complete comfort during the removal process. Patients may feel some pressure as the doctor applies the excision technique. This does not hurt.
What Is the Best Way to Personally Check for Cancerous Moles?
Early detection and treatment for suspicious growths are accredited with better patient outcomes. If you notice any new spots on your skin, spots that do not look the same as others, or spots that are bleeding, itching, or changing in any way, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist. To notice new spots and changing spots, it is necessary to observe your skin regularly. Experts recommend that all people perform a general skin exam at home on a monthly basis. Fortunately, this is easy to do.
- While naked, stand in front of a full-length mirror. Observe the entire front of your body. Using a handheld mirror if necessary, observe the entire back of the body, including the buttocks.
- Standing to each side, lift the arms and observe each side of the body.
- Bending the arms as needed, look directly at the palms, underarms, and forearms.
- Look at the legs and feet, including behind the knees, around the ankles, and between the toes. Also, observe the soles of the feet.
- Using a handheld mirror, observe the back of the neck and the scalp. Part hair to observe more of the skin on the scalp.
Make notes of any new growths that you see or any changes you see in certain growths. Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to discuss the changes you have noted.
Are All Dermatologists Qualified to Assess Moles?
Yes. In fact, studies suggest that all general doctors should have even awareness of and experience evaluating moles to make a relatively accurate diagnosis. If you notice a suspicious growth during a self-examination, schedule an appointment right away. If you can see your general doctor sooner than you can see a dermatologist, make the appointment. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist for further testing. Here at Harris Dermatology in Naples, our team specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of suspicious moles and skin cancer. Our extensive training in the area of dermatology, skin cancer, and Mohs micrographic surgery makes us uniquely qualified to assess moles for indications of precancer or skin cancer.
What Is the Importance of Seeing a Mole Specialist Early?
It is important to see a doctor right away when you notice a suspicious change in a mole. The simple answer to why is that early treatment for skin cancer saves lives. Multiple studies have determined that the development of skin self-examinations, increased awareness about the signs of skin cancer, and early and innovative skin cancer treatment have made a significant difference in the number of skin cancer deaths reported each year. There is ample evidence to support the value of regular skin cancer screenings and early treatment from a board-certified dermatologist. Seeing a mole specialist early after the discovery of a suspicious mole means putting yourself in the position of power to protect your health. Even if your skin cancer is non-malignant, there are concerns related to cosmetic appearance, comfort, and disfigurement. The sooner that care is received, the better your outcome may be using the most conservative treatments.
What Age Do Moles Appear?
Moles can appear throughout life, but the majority emerge during early childhood and throughout a person’s 20s. If you notice mole growth throughout your 30s, 40s, and beyond, it could be harmless. However, any new skin growths and changes are a good reason to reach out to a dermatologist who specializes in mole treatment and mole removal.
Why Do You Get Moles as You Age?
Moles may develop in adulthood as adults’ skin changes due to sun exposure. Genetic predisposition and even certain prescription medications can also cause moles to suddenly develop in adults. If you notice new moles forming, you can have a dermatologist assess them and determine whether they’re benign or require testing.