Doctors use multiple methods to remove moles and other skin lesions. The method varies according to the likely diagnosis, size and type of skin lesion, location on the body and patient preferences including cost and minimisation of scarring risk. Common methods include surgical excision with stitches, cryotherapy, radiofrequency surgery, shave excision, laser/IPL and electrocautery.
There are several methods that doctors use to remove moles, and the most appropriate method will depend on the type, size, and location of the mole, as well as the preferences and overall health of the patient. Common methods getting a mole removed include:
- Surgical excision with stitches: This is a common method used to remove moles that are suspected of being cancerous or pre-cancerous. The mole is cut out along with a margin of surrounding skin, and the wound is closed with stitches.
- Shave excision: This method is used to remove flat moles or those that are only slightly raised above the surface of the skin. The mole is shaved off using a sharp blade, and the wound is left to heal from the bottom.
- Radiofrequency surgery: This method uses radiofrequency energy to remove raised moles. The energy is delivered through a probe, which heats the tissue and causes it to coagulate, effectively destroying the mole. This method generally causes the least amount of scarring for raised moles and skin lesions.
- Cryotherapy: This method involves freezing the lesion using liquid nitrogen, which destroys the cells and causes the mole to fall off. It is often used to remove skin tags and seborrhoeic keratoses.
- IPL (intense pulsed light) or laser: These methods use concentrated light energy to destroy pigmentation in the skin lesion, causing it to fade away over time. They are often used to remove angiomas (red moles), freckles, and certain types of flat moles.
- Electrocautery: This method uses an electric current to destroy the cells of the mole. It is often used to remove certain types of pre-cancerous solar keratoses and angiomas.
The cost of mole removal in Australia is usually dependent on the method of removal (for a single cosmetic mole removal, radiofrequency surgery and laser/IPL can be more expensive, but usually cause significantly less scarring).
The time to for a mole removal surgery to heal is also influenced by the method used. Typically, there is no damage to the skin surface with laser or IPL, so there's no "healing time". On the other hand, surgical excision sometimes requires stitches to be in place for 2-3 weeks and it can take over a year for wound healing to complete.