A flat mole is a type of pigmented skin growth that is typically benign (non-cancerous). However, it is important to have any new or changing moles examined by an experienced skin cancer doctor or dermatologist, as some pigmented flat moles can potentially be melanoma, a potentially serious skin cancer. If a flat mole needs to be removed, there are several methods that may be used, including surgical excision with stitches, shave excision, and laser ablation.
- Surgical excision with stitches is a common method for removing a flat mole. In this procedure, the mole is cut out of the skin using a scalpel or other surgical instrument. The surrounding skin is then sutured (stitched) together to close the wound. This method is generally considered to be the most effective for completely removing a mole. If the examining doctor suspects melanoma, this procedure is is considered the appropriate treatment in almost all cases.
- Shave excision is another method that may be used to remove a flat mole. In this procedure, a thin layer is horizontally shaved off the surface of the skin, using a scalpel or other sharp instrument. The remaining area is then cauterised, either with an electric current or a chemical agent to stop bleeding and help prevent regrowth. Shave excision is typically a less invasive procedure than surgical excision with stitches, but it may not be as effective at completely removing the mole. Shave excision is also frequently used for removing a raised mole.
- Laser ablation is another option for removing a flat mole. Because the mole is destroyed and tissue cannot be examined microscopically, this technique is performed only when the treating doctor is extremely confident that the mole is not a skin cancer. Because of the potential for concealing and inadequately treating a melanoma, this procedure must never be performed by anyone other than doctor with experience and qualifications is skin cancer medicine. It must be carefully examined using a dermoscope and additional other methods may be used to reduce the risk of missing a melanoma (e.g. repeated high-magnification photography to check for change, AI-assisted photographic analysis and/or spectroscopic analysis). In laser ablation of a mole, the pigment is targeted and damaged by a laser. This procedure is less invasive than surgical excision, and usually causes less scarring. However, it may not be as effective at completely removing the mole and may require multiple treatments.
Irrespective of the method used, it is important to have a flat mole examined by a dermatologist or other healthcare provider before deciding on a course of treatment. This is especially important if the mole is pigmented, as some pigmented moles can potentially be melanoma. An experienced skin cancer doctor can examine the mole using a dermoscope, an instrument that allows for close examination of the skin, to help determine whether it is benign or potentially cancerous. If the mole is found to be melanoma, it will need to be treated with a more aggressive approach to ensure that all of the cancerous cells are removed.