Moles or nevi (medical term, plural of nevus) are pigmented spots on the skin. They are clusters of melanocytes, which are pigment producing skin cells, and they vary in size and color. The color depends on the person’s skin tone and the amount of melanin involved. In most cases moles are darker than the skin tone, with the color being directly proportional to the amount of melanin. It is normal for moles to appear during childhood and adolescence and for them to grow as the child grows. In people with white skin tone the average amount of moles per person is of around sixty.
In order to determine if the moles or nevi should be removed with surgery, the specialist has to examine and evaluate them according to the following criteria:
- Asymmetry: Normal moles are symmetrical, with one half matching the other in color, shape, size and thickness. Removal may be indicated if the shape of the mole is asymmetric.
- Border: Normal moles have regular, well-defined borders. Removal may be indicated if the borders of the mole are irregular or fade into the surrounding skin.
- Color: Normal moles have uniform coloring. Removal may be indicated if there is variation or irregularity in the mole’s coloring.
- Size: Normal moles are usually 6 mm or smaller in diameter. Removal may be indicated if the mole’s diameter is greater than 6 mm.
- Growth: Removal may be indicated when there is enlargement of previously stable moles.
- Location: Removal may be indicated for moles located in specific areas such as the soles of the feet or palms of the hands, between fingers or toes, or in areas where they are subject to friction and/or irritation.
- Other reasons: Removal may be indicated for moles that suddenly present signs such as itching, pain, swelling, burning sensation, ulceration, bleeding and/or halo or shadow formation around the mole; or if the patient has more than 100 moles in their body.
Mole removal is usually performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. Antibiotics should be taken for a period of ten days total, starting two days before the procedure, the day of the procedure and for seven days after.
All moles that are removed should be sent for microscopic examination. It normally takes 4 - 7 working days to get the results. The stitches are removed within a period of 7 - 14 days after the procedure. This period depends on the area where the moles were located.
Arnoldo Fournier M.D., F.A.C.S. ©
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