Moles can be skin coloured, a mixture of skin and brown pigment, or brown containing hairs. Skin coloured moles can be safely removed from the skin by a technique called shave excision. This involves injection of a local anaesthetic followed by gentle shaving using a specialised blade called a Dermablade®. After 7-14 days of the wound has usually healed. Initially the wound will be red in colour and the skin gradually returns to your normal skin colour over a number of months. The Consultant team all have training in this technique and can provide good cosmetic results with rapid healing. Hairy moles and dark pigmented moles are better excised and stitched. We can provide advice on both techniques and what would give you the best cosmetic results.
What should I consider when choosing a clinic for mole removal?
The most important factor to consider is whether the mole is clinically benign (harmless). You need to be reassured that the person treating you is a doctor with expertise in dermatology. At our clinics, you can be reassured that all of our surgical procedures are performed by our specialist Dermatology Doctors. Most of our doctors also work in the NHS around Sussex and Surrey, where they regularly see and treat NHS patients with suspicious lesions and skin cancer.
Types of Moles
Skin Coloured Moles (Intra-Dermal Naevi)
Skin coloured moles can usually be safely removed with an excellent cosmetic outcome, because the skin cells are superficial and there is a minimal risk of pigment returning.
Pigmented or Hairy Moles (Compound Naevi)
Pigmented moles may be flat or raised and may contain hairs. They are far more difficult to treat because the skin cells are deeper in the skin and unless the cells are removed completely they can reoccur. The only effective way to treat this type of mole is surgical excision with stitches or methods that cause scarring of the skin. The cosmetic outcome is far more variable and it is important not to commit to treatment unless the clinical results can produce a scar that is preferable to the appearance of the original mole. This can be difficult to achieve even with state-of-the-art surgical equipment or lasers, but our doctors will be able to discuss the potential outcomes with you during your consultation to decide if the mole is clinically appropriate to remove or not.
Cosmetic Result and Removal Techniques Used
Skin coloured moles can be carefully shaved from the surface of the skin using a procedure called a shave excision. After a small injection of local anaesthetic, our consultant will carefully shave off the mole level to the skin surface using specialised surgical curved razor blade called a Dermablade. The consultant will then seal the skin surface using a radiofrequency cautery device called a Hyfrecator or a drying chemical called Driclor. The resulting wound is similar to a graze and will heal in the vast majority of cases to give an excellent cosmetic result. Our doctors are highly experienced at performing this procedure and most patients are extremely pleased with the results. Laboratory analysis is generally not required for skin coloured moles, but if your mole is pigmented or if the doctor feels it is appropriate then we may need to send it for analysis, which would incur and additional fee.
Pigmented or hairy moles are generally more difficult to remove and require surgical excision with stitches. This is performed under local anaesthetic by our specialist doctors, who will surgically excise the mole. Once excised, the moles generally require laboratory analysis by a Consultant Histopathologist to confirm the diagnosis, and this is typically included within the fee. Our doctors are both highly experienced at diagnosing skin lesions and regularly manage patients with skin cancer within the NHS as part of the Medical Clinics Group.
Risk of Side-Effects
Mole removal by Shave Excision is a very safe procedure and any side-effects are usually temporary. Over 90% of shaved moles heal with few complications. Potential side-effects may include a white scar at the site of surgery, brown pigmentation at the base of the mole, and regrowth of the mole. Up to 5% will re-grow and may require further surgery longer-term. Results are generally better with smaller moles that are skin coloured with no pigment. Very rarely a raised scar may develop called a hypertrophic or a keloid scar. The risk on the face is extremely low. On the trunk or the shoulder, the risk may increase to 1 in 500 cases treated. We are always happy to review patients if they have any concerns post-treatment.
How long does it take to heal?
After the mole is shaved, the Hyfrecator seals surface blood vessels and this leaves a wound that is similar to a graze. The wound will typically take 7-10 days to heal and may be red for a few months before leaving normal skin or occasionally a small white flat mark. The skin may ooze or be sore immediately following the procedure, but most patients can return to work on the same day.
Does the procedure hurt?
Patients may feel some slight discomfort from the initial local anaesthetic injection, but the procedure itself is painless and quick, usually taking less than twenty minutes to complete. Afterwards the wound may be sore for 7-10 days whilst it heals so we recommend that you apply Vaseline to the wound to keep it moist 3-4 times daily and avoid picking any scabs.
How many moles can be removed at the time of the procedure?
Many patients have multiple facial moles and it is possible to treat several at a time. However, it can sometimes be preferable to remove one or just a small number of moles to assess your individual wound healing.
Is mole removal permanent?
The vast majority of moles treated by shave excision will result in an excellent scar and only 3-5% of moles will re-grow longer-term. If re-growth does occur then it will usually take several years, however occasionally this re-growth can occur earlier.
Can this procedure be performed on the NHS?
The removal of moles and skin-tags is not available in the NHS for most patients since the procedure is considered purely cosmetic. Only moles and skin-tags which have suspicious features or are likely to be cancerous are removed under the national health system in the UK. If you have any concerns regarding your moles then it is important to get it checked out by a doctor immediately, particularly if you notice any changes in shape, size, border or colour.
How safe is it to remove moles?
There is no risk of skin cancer in moles that are removed by shave excision for cosmetic purposes. If, during your examination one or more of your moles are found to be suspicious, the doctor will advise you on further management. You will be offered to have it removed with a full excision on the day and the mole be sent for analysis (histology) or alternatively the doctor can write and ask your GP to refer you for the procedure on the NHS, if you prefer.
What to expect…
Having a mole removed can be a bit daunting for many patients, but there really isn’t anything to worry about as the procedure is very quick and the majority of patients are delighted with the final result.
On the day of your visit you will have a consultation with the doctor who will be able to examine your moles for you, explain the procedure in detail and discuss all the potential side-effects and results with you. Then, if you are happy to go ahead the procedure you simply have a quick injection of local anaesthetic to numb the area and our doctor will perform the excision. You will typically be walking out of the clinic within 20-30 minutes and will leave with an aftercare advice sheet to give you advice on how to look after your wound until it heals, but if you have any questions following treatment then you can always phone the clinic for advice.
How much does it cost?
We specialise in the treatment of patients with multiple lesions and offer extremely competitive rates compared to private hospitals. Please see our price guide or get in touch for more advice. As a general rule, it is more cost-effective to have a procedure done at the same time of the consultation. This is particularly applicable for small procedures.