Mole removal in Sheffield
Mr Morritt regularly removes moles in Sheffield for cosmetic purposes. Moles are also removed when there is concern about skin cancer. Mr Morritt uses plastic surgery techniques to minimise scarring. He also places scars in areas where they will be less conspicuous. Scarless wound healing is not yet achievable in humans (it is possible in the foetus ie. when babies are in the womb). Having said that, the vast majority of scars following mole removal heal well and in some patients may be difficult to see.
Mole removal – Procedures
Mole removal is a relatively quick procedure that is performed under local anaesthetic as a day case procedure (you do not need to stay overnight in hospital). Moles are removed using ‘shave excision’ , ‘punch biopsy’ or ‘excision biopsy’.
The mole is shaved down slightly into the skin to remove it’s roots. A dressing is placed on the shaved area after the mole removal surgery to encourage the wound to form a scab. The wound then heals and the scab ultimately falls off. Different people heal at different speeds (young people tend to heal more quickly than the elderly). For moles with shallow roots, full healing may occur within 5-7 days. Moles with deeper roots may take slightly longer to heal. Scars tend to be very difficult to see once fully mature but it is sometimes possible to see a slight dent or a different skin colour where the mole was removed from. As the full thickness of the skin is not removed with shave excision, the chance of the mole growing back following the surgery is slightly greater than with punch or excision biopsy mole removal.
A small punch (which looks a bit like a metal straw that has a very sharp end) is used to remove the mole and a tiny area of surrounding normal looking skin. In contrast to shave excision where some of the skin under the mole is not removed, punch biopsy removes the full thickness of the skin under the mole. The wound is stitched up. Stitches are removed 5-7 days following surgery. This technique is generally suitable for smaller moles. Because the full thickness of the skin is removed with the mole, the chance of the mole growing back is less than with shave excision mole removal. The wound generally heals with a thin fine scar once the scarring has fully matured.
The mole and a tiny area of surrounding normal skin are removed in one piece. The full thickness of the skin under the mole is removed which reduces the chance of the mole growing back. The wound is stitched with a tiny stitch that is removed 5-7 days following surgery on the face (stitches will be left in for longer on other body parts). This technique is generally used for larger moles. Excision biopsy mole removal generally heals with a thin fine scar once the scarring has fully matured.
Laser mole removal
Laser treatment is a recognised technique for mole removal. The laser is used to burn the mole away and the wound is then left to heal up. Many patients perceive that removal of moles with a laser gives a better cosmetic outcome than surgery however there is a lack of good scientific evidence to support this. Laser mole removal is essentially very similar to shave excision mole removal and does therefore have a potentially higher risk of mole regrowth after treatment than surgical excision does. Mr Morritt does not personally undertake laser mole removal as he prefers to use more predictable treatments.
Mole analysis after surgery (histopathology)
As the vast majority of moles removed for cosmetic purposes are benign and this is apparent from their appearance we do not routinely send the moles off for histological analysis after they are removed. Moles can of course be sent off for analysis if patients desire (this usually incurs an additional fee). In the event that there is any concern regarding the appearance of a mole or if a patient has a personal or family history of skin cancer, Mr Morritt may recommend that the mole is sent off for histological analysis after mole removal.
NHS mole removal
It is still possible to have moles removed on the NHS and Mr Morritt does this at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield. There are however strict criteria for having NHS mole removal and we are no longer allowed to perform mole removal for purely cosmetic purposes. If you are interested in having a mole removed on the NHS then please do discuss with your GP in the first instance to see if you qualify for NHS treatment.
Mole removal FAQs
Some of the most frequent questions about mole removal are answered below.
What is a mole?
The skin is made up of many different types of cells. One of the cells is called a melanocyte and this is responsible for producing a pigment called melanin that is brown. The melanocytes in people with darker skin produce more melanin than those with pale skin. Sometimes the melanocytes can group together (clusters) and this gives the appearance of a mole. Most people have a few moles but some people have hundreds. It is not uncommon for moles to darken during pregnancy.
Does mole removal hurt?
Mole removal is performed under local anaesthetic. This is a numbing injection similar to that used when you have dental treatment. There will be an initial sting from the injection. The surgery should not hurt. The local anaesthetic will wear off a few hours after surgery. Pain levels are low and frequently pain relief is not necessary. For those who want to be pain free regular paracetamol will usually suffice.
Will the mole grow back after treatment?
It is rare for moles to grow back after mole removal treatment but it does occur from time to time. If the mole grows back during the hospital aftercare package further removal will be undertaken for no additional charge.
Is mole removal safe?
Mole removal is a relatively minor procedure and generally goes well without complications. Occasionally complications happen and these are detailed below.
Is it possible to remove a mole without leaving a scar (scarless mole removal)
All mole removal treatments – surgery and laser included produce a wound. The normal response to wound healing is scar formation. Interestingly, in babies in the womb (the foetus), wound healing does not form visible scars. Researchers Worldwide have been working on scarless wound healing for over 40 years but have not yet succeeded. In adults scarless mole removal is therefore not possible. Having said that in some patients the scars from mole removal may be extremely difficult to see once they have matured. In some patients, scars can be placed in areas where there are wrinkles or shadows making them less obvious. As a general rule, older people form better scars than younger people. People with skin that tans also generally form better scars than those who burn. Silicone scar treatments applied after mole removal can also speed up the scar maturation process making the scars paler and flatter more quickly.
Do all moles need to be sent off for analysis (histopathology)
It is usually possible to tell the difference between benign moles and cancerous (malignant) moles with observation alone. Benign moles do not generally need to be sent off for analysis unless patients specifically request this for peace of mind. Where diagnostic uncertainty exists (it is not clear whether the mole is benign or malignant) or if the mole looks like skin cancer I recommend that the mole is sent off for analysis.
Risks of mole removal surgery
Poor scarring – the vast majority of wounds from mole removal heal with thin, pale, flat scars. Rarely scars can become raised, red and painful. Wounds that take longer than normal to heal may heal with a slightly different skin tone to the normal surrounding skin. Patients with darker skin can also sometimes get darker scars than the surround skin.
Regrowth of the mole – more common with shave excision mole removal than with punch or excision biopsy. In the event that a mole grows back, the treatment can be repeated or an alternative treatment performed.
Numbness – this can occur around any surgical scar but is usually limited to the area immediately around the scar.
Contour defect – there can sometimes be a visible slight indentation following shave excision removal of a mole.
Wound infection – this is rare following mole removal but usually responds to a short course of tablet antibiotics.
‘Dog ear’ formation – this term is used by doctors to describe a bulge that sometimes forms at either side of a surgical scar. This usually happens because doctors try and limit the size of the scar at the time of surgery to make scars less conspicuous. Many ‘dog ears’ following surgery settle with time as swelling from the surgery wears off and the scar relaxes. For those ‘dog ears’ which do not improve with time and that trouble the patient, it is possible to remove the dog ears by performing a small operation to lengthen the scar slightly.
Need for further treatment – if analysis of a mole shows that it is skin cancer then it is sometimes necessary for the patient to have more treatment. This would usually be more extensive surgery but sometimes radiotherapy is used.