The mole over Cindy Crawford's lip is an immediate tip off of her identity, but some people would prefer not to have such a noticeable mark on their face or body. Traditionally, moles are removed from the skin by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon using a scalpel, cryosurgery and, recent years, laser. There are creams that advertise they are also effective, but are they?
Moles can appear anywhere on the body though commonly occur on the face, arms, legs or trunk. Even though the majority of moles are non-cancerous, they do require monitoring to make sure they don’t change and become a site of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer that kills almost 9,000 people a year. Cancerous moles usually are large, over 6 mm, dark colored and irregularly bordered.
The most common mole removal method is by a dermatologist using a scalpel. The skin is anesthetized and an area slightly larger than the mole is removed and with suspicious moles, a small piece is sent to be tested for melanoma. If the mole is large, sometimes sutures are needed to close the skin incision. For smaller moles, cryotherapy can be used which freezes the mole and it eventually falls off. Laser surgery can vaporize the mole and cauterize blood vessels so sutures are not needed and there is no bleeding.
Scar formation is the biggest drawback from having a mole removed, regardless of method considered. If the mole is on the face, a plastic surgeon should be consulted and references checked to be sure you have the best result since the mole is in such a visible place. Ask to see one if your dermatologist doesn’t automatically suggest it.
Topical mole removal creams often contain bloodroot, which is a form of acid that dissolves the mole and may require repeat applications. Care must be taken not to get the cream onto any healthy skin to avoid damage. Even with repeated applications, the mole may still remain. People in forums have reported mixed results using mole removal creams so your success maybe variable depending on the size of the mole. Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., a dermatologist answering questions at Mayo clinic.com, doesn’t feel creams are effective at all.