The medical name for a mole is nevus. A nevus is a collection of benign cells at the base of the skin called melanocytes which are the cells in our bodies that produce pigment. Nevi can be flat or raised, appear in an variety of colors including brown, black, flesh-colored, or pink.
The type of surgery used to remove moles depends on many factors including how concerned Dr. Retief is about the region, the size of the mole, its location, and whether it is raised or flat. Moles can be removed using many different methods including shave removal, excision, and occasionally via laser surgery.
Shave removal is a procedure in which a flexible blade is used to shave the nevus off to be flush with the skin. This type of removal is best for small raised nevi, and no stitches are necessary. The liklihood of recurrence with this type of removal process is increased, but for small lesions, it offers the least impressionable scar.
Excision of a nevus is a procedure in which the nevus and a small amount of skin around the nevus is removed down to the subcutaneous fat. The surgical hole that is left behind is repaired with sutures. This treatment has the least chance of recurrence of the nevus. Excision is used when the Dr. Retief is suspicious of melanoma; it is also used for larger flat nevi and some larger raised nevi depending of the location. Stitches stay in for one to two weeks.
Occasionally, flat nevi can be removed with lasers if they are deemed benign and are very small. This treatment is rarely performed because it makes it hard to detect melanoma and ensure that no harmful cells are left behind.
Unfortunately, all types of mole surgeries leave behind a scar. If you are considering having a mole removed, the first decision to make is if you’re willing to trade the appearance of a mole for a possibly noticeable scar. If your Dr. Retief suspects malignancy, a biopsy will first be done first to determine the best course of treatment.