Mole removal

Can black moles be removed?

Black moles can be removed by a doctor using a variety of methods. If the mole resembles a melanoma (a type of skin cancer which is often black or partially black) it must be completely cut out and sent to a laboratory for examination by a skin pathologist to determine the diagnosis. If the black mole or skin lesion is examined by a doctor who decides it's not likely to be a skin cancer, various other techniques can be used to give a better cosmetic outcome if desired.

It's important to have any suspicious-looking black spots on your skin checked by a skin cancer doctor or dermatologist if you are considering getting moles removed.

While most black skin lesions are benign (non-cancerous), they should be examined by a doctor because melanoma can sometimes present as a black mole. An experienced skin cancer doctor or dermatologist will be able to examine the mole and, if necessary, surgically remove it. The goal of surgery is to remove the entire mole, along with a margin of healthy tissue, to ensure that all of the mole or skin cancer is removed and to minimise the risk of moles coming back after removal. This is the most effective method of ensuring complete removal of a mole, but it tends to leave a larger scar than most other mole removal techniques.

Black moles and other lesions are very common and even new or changing ones aren't necessarily dangerous. For example, many women develop new black "moles" when pregnant. These are usually harmless seborrhoeic keratoses. Other black lesions may be angiomas (small clusters of blood vessels) carrying dark venous blood. Normal black moles are very common in people with darker (Fitzpatrick types IV-VI) skin. All of these black moles, seborrhoeic keratoses and angiomas can be removed using various techniques to minimise scarring or expense.

Low scarring techniques include:

  • radiofrequency surgery for raised black moles, angiomas and seborrhoeic keratoses
  • IPL or laser treatment for angiomas and some flat black moles

Low cost techniques include:

  • cryotherapy for seborrhoeic keratoses
  • electrocautery for angiomas
  • shave excision for raised and some flat black moles.

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