When Should You Get Your Mole Removed?

Published in Dermatology Wellness Tag: Cindy Firkins Smith, MD  

Author: Cindy Firkins Smith, MD

Was that mole there before? Or is it new? Should you have it removed or are you just worrying unnecessarily?

Most people have moles, and most moles will appear during the first thirty years of life. By adulthood, it's perfectly normal to have somewhere between 10 to 40 moles. As you age, your moles may begin to slowly change. Some moles may change color or become raised. Others may not change at all. Sometimes moles even disappear. Sun exposure can cause mole growth or even make existing moles darker.

Should I Get My Mole Removed?

Moles are typically harmless. Sometimes people want a mole removed because it causes discomfort when it rubs against something.

Moles that change in color, size or shape may be pre-cancerous or cancerous. If you have a mole that is changing, looks different than your other moles or have one that appears after age 30, make an appointment with your primary care physician or a dermatologist to evaluate your mole. He or she may decide to do a biopsy of the mole. A biopsy is when a mole is removed and sent to a lab to check for cancer.

How is a Mole Removed?

A mole can be removed in a number of ways, depending on its location, size and appearance. Usually your doctor will numb the skin with local anesthetic and either shave it off or cut it out and stitch it up. You can speak with your physician about your best option.

Never try to remove a mole on your own.

Though moles are typically harmless, when a mole looks suspicious, it should be checked out. Don't procrastinate! Most skin cancers, including melanoma are curable if they're diagnosed and treated early. Unfortunately, ignoring a dangerous mole could prove fatal.

What is a normal mole?

  • Normal moles are typically even shades of tan, brown or flesh-color.
  • If the mole has unusual or multiple colors (black, grey, brown, pink, red or others) get it checked out.
  • Normal moles tend to be smaller than the head of pencil eraser, (less than six millimeters in diameter.)
  • If the mole is large, especially much larger than others, get it checked out.
  • Normal moles have distinct margins and a symmetrical appearance.
  • If the mole has fuzzy borders or is asymmetrical side-to-side or top-to-bottom, get it checked out.