Moles are overgrowths of the skin's pigment cells (melanocytes). Almost all of us have them and are not normally present at birth, but appear in childhood and early teenage years. They are generally medium to dark brown in color though they range from skin colored to black. The majority of moles are flat, relatively even in color and regular in shape. Some moles are raised and these are usually soft to touch and lighter in color. Occasionally moles may develop a white halo around them (halo naevus) and then disappear; this is a natural process and generally harmless.
Dysplastic moles are moles that have evolved some way toward melanoma. Since only very few dysplastic moles actually turn into melanoma they do not need to be removed routinely. If you have multiple dysplastic moles, however, you may need to have regular checks. We may photograph your skin so that changes in your moles can be detected at follow-up visits. Since many melanomas arise as new spots (on previously normal looking skin) it is necessary to observe all of the skin, not only the dysplastic moles
Dysplastic moles are likely to be large, smudgy around the edges, uneven in color,
irregular in shape and pinkish when compared with most moles
1. What moles should I be concerned about?
One method that is used is the ABCD rule;
A – Asymmetry: a mole that does not appear to be identical on both halves, up/down or side/side.
B – Borders: a mole that has borders that are hazy, red or lighter color than the skin surrounding the mole, or a wavy-irregular border.
C – Color: a mole that has 2 or more colors in it.
D – Diameter: a mole whose diameter is equal to/greater than the diameter of a pencil eraser.
Of course this does not limit any concern that you might have. Any mole that has changed in appearance or has any symptoms of itching, pain, or bleeds should also be examined by a dermatology specialist.
2. How often should I have my moles checked?
If you have had a history of skin cancer, frequently changing moles or recurrent sun burns, it is important to have a body skin examination at least 1 to 2 times per year. If you have not had a history of skin cancer, your dermatologist recommends an examination once a year.
3. What are my options for mole removal?
There are several options for mole removals. We will examine the mole and the area it is located on to determine the best option for removal. Most moles can be removed during an office visit. Options include local anesthesia and “shaving” the mole with a scalpel, or using a surgical tool to “core” the mole and then stitches are used for closure. Sometimes based on the location or size of the mole, your dermatologist might recommend a plastic surgeon. All options will be carefully weighed and discussed with you during your visit.
All moles or lesions that are removed are sent for examination to dermopathologists. They are physicians that specialize in skin tissue examination. All reports will be discussed with you during your follow up visit.
Our office practices the "No News, Is Good News" rule. It often takes 2 weeks to receive biopsy results back from the pathologist. We will only call you regarding the results if it requires further treatment. Otherwise, the results will be provided at followup visits. You are always welcome to call for your results, we just ask that you wait for 2 weeks to insure we have received the results.