Non-cancerous spots generally present themselves as moles or blemishes on the skin. Babies are highly unlikely to be born with moles as they appear during childhood and the early teenage years. The more moles a person has equates to a greater risk for the occurrence of melanoma. Moles usually appear as small, dark spots and are clustered pigmented cells. There is no known cause for moles; some suggest they are genetic while others believe moles are directly linked to sun exposure.

Why do they turn dark in colour?

Melanocytes produce the melanin which is the pigment that gives your skin colour. Usually, Melanin is distributed evenly across the skin. However in the instance of a mole appearing, the melanin cells have grouped together to form the mole.

Did you know?

– At age 15 most Australian children will have an average of more than 50 moles.
– Any moles that appear after the age of 35 should be professionally assessed.

Why do people opt to have non-cancerous spots removed?

Many people choose to have moles, spots and blemishes removed as they feel the moles are unsightly or may express concerns that the moles may change and become cancerous. The majority of spots and skin blemishes are not classed as cancerous.

How does the Doctor determine if a mole is cancerous or non-cancerous?

Shave Biopsy

A scalpel is used to finely remove the outer layers of skin in the blemished area. A shave biopsy will not be performed if your Doctor suspects the spot is a malignant melanoma. A shave biopsy does not take a thick skin sample which is needed to test how deep the cancerous tissue is. It would be rare that a shave biopsy needed stitching.

The Doctor will cauterise the area to stop any bleeding and will dress the wound. They will provide you with wound care information to return home with.

Excision Biopsy

As the name suggests the entire mole or lesion will be remove using a surgical knife. This is a common procedure if a melanoma is suspected. Stitches are to be expected as the Doctor will remove as much skin as is necessary to remove the full mole or lesion.

Punch Biopsy

Deep skin lesions are more likely to be treated via punch biopsy. The Doctor will use a sharp cylindrical punch to punch out the skin tissue. Stitches will be required, depending on the location.

After a Biopsy is done or a Mole is removed a small scar will result For mole removal requiring stitches, deeper stitches will be dissolvable, but the upper skin layer stitches will require removal at a later date. If the stitches are in an area of thinner skin, like the face, the stitches are most likely to be removed after five days. If the stitches are located in the thicker skin, like the palms of the hand the stitches may remain in place for two weeks.

You will need to keep the wound clean and covered until the wound has healed and the stitches are removed. Depending on the location of the mole removal you will need to be aware of your physical limitations and restrict your movements and exercise regimes until there is no risk of tearing the stitches and opening the wound. Your surgeon may be able to give more specific time frames depending on the size of the removal, type of procedure and location of the stitches.

A small scar will remain following any excision of a mole; however the scar will be significantly less noticeable than the original mole in most instances. Your Doctor will provide guidance and support for wound and scar management to minimise the scarring effects.

Even after mole removal, it is imperative to continue your home skin assessments and also regularly have a professional assess your moles. Any new moles, changes to moles, itching moles or any moles you suspect of being cancerous must be assessed by a Doctor to determine the best line of treatment.