Omaha Skin Mole Removal Procedure
Discover more about skin cancer protection, dangerous moles and the skin mole removal procedure.
Moles are dark spots on the skin. Unlike Marilyn Monroe's classic "beauty mark," moles are not signs of beauty. They can sometimes signal an early stage of cancer.
Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a board-certified dermatologist at Skin Specialists in Omaha, can assess your moles and remove them, if necessary. He has the medical background to recognize suspicious moles and the surgical skill and training as a cosmetic surgeon to remove them - most often without leaving a scar.
Commonly, moles are brown and vary in size and shape. The brown color in moles is caused by special pigment cells called melanin. Dark, flat moles are especially concerning because they may progress to become melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. In fact, there is new evidence that President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually died from a suspicious mole that was deadly skin cancer (melanoma) over his left eyebrow that went undetected.
Moles can also be other colors such as red, pink, blue, or colorless.
What are moles?
Moles are also called nevi (one mole is a nevus) and can be any irregularity or dark spot on the skin such as a birthmark, a red spot caused by blood vessels called hemangioma, and keratosis, which are scaly precancerous spots that often start to appear later in life.
You may have been born with a mole or two or more. Other moles simply appear throughout life, and sometimes those moles are linked to sun exposure - another especially compelling reason to avoid tanning and tanning booths. Lighter-skinned people tend to have more moles than darker-skinned people.
Certain families have a tendency to develop many moles, and some of them may turn into skin cancer. Knowing your family health history is important here, as well as seeing a dermatologist often to map and observe the moles.
Know your ABCDE's About Dangerous Moles
Recognize the warning signs of dangerous moles that can turn into skin cancer (malignant melanoma) by using this easy-to-remember guide:
A stands for asymmetry. Beware of moles where one half doesn't match the other half in shape.
B stands for border. Watch for moles with ragged, blurred or irregular borders or edges.
C stands for color. Look for uneven coloration, more than one color, or moles with unusual colors.
D stands for diameter. Give special attention to moles with a diameter larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
E stands evolving. Moles may change or grow in shape over time.
Keeping an eye on moles is an important part of your total skin health. If you have a mole that fits these descriptions or see any moles that have changed in appearance, color or size, please contact Skin Specialists for an appointment.
How are moles removed?
Not all moles need to be removed. Dr. Schlessinger can assess which mole or moles should be removed and checked for cancer cells.
Most moles are harmless and don't change. But you may also want a mole removed because it is in a spot that bothers you, such as on your face or under a bra line.
Dr. Schlessinger uses various methods to remove moles: cutting away or surgical shaving (a shave biopsy) and no stitches or removing the mole with a punch and cauterization (burning) with stitches (a punch biopsy). The method is determined by the depth of the mole into the skin, keeping in mind the cosmetic outcome.
Before and After Mole Removal Photos
The Procedure for Mole Removal
Mole removal is a simple and fairly quick office procedure. You will be comfortably seated, reclining, or lying down, depending on where the mole to be removed is located. The area is cleansed. Dr. Schlessinger uses a fine needle to administer numbing solution just to the area. This is a quick and fairly painless needle stick.
Once the area is numb, Dr. Schlessinger uses a scalpel to shave the mole off at the skin level. He may use an electrical cauterization instrument to burn the area to stop the bleeding. A topical medicine such as Polysporin is placed on the wound, which is covered with a bandage.
For deeper moles, Dr. Schlessinger may cut the mole and the surrounding area or use a round punch instrument to remove the suspicious tissue, once the area has been cleansed and numbed. He may stitch the site with sutures that may or may not need to be removed. Stitches on the upper skin don't absorb and will be removed in a week or so.
You will be given instructions on how to take care of your wound. You'll be advised to apply Polysporin (not an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or triple antibiotic, which many people are allergic to and can cause a rash). You'll keep a bandage on the wound as this has been shown to reduce scarring. The old thought of letting a scab form is now felt to cause scarring and is discouraged.
Chances are you won't have pain, but for minor pain, you may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) but not ibuprofen (Advil) or other aspirin-containing products that may promote bleeding. You will be advised to contact the office if you have a fever or infection developing.
You may or may not need to return to the office for stitches to be removed. Usually stitches are taken out within 7 to 14 days after the procedure, but this can vary.
Any tissue samples are sent to a lab for testing, and the office will contact you with results. If there is a concern about skin cancer, you'll schedule a follow-up appointment with Dr. Schlessinger to check other moles.
If the mole or tissue removed turns out to be skin cancer, Dr. Schlessinger may perform Moh's surgery, a technique that removes further layers of skin until the area is free of cancer cells. He is particularly skilled in this type of surgery, which is the most effective treatment for skin cancer.
Dr. Schlessinger Recommends
There are a number of products Dr. Schlessinger recommends for his patients with concerns about scarring from surgical procedures - available here on the website without a prescription.
These all have the common feature of covering a scar and providing a healing membrane during and after the initial procedure.
Questions & Answers About Moles
Dr. Schlessinger will answer your questions about moles. If you have a question, he invites you to email him at
How do I know if a mole is suspicious?
You don't. But you can watch for the ABCDEs and make an appointment to have an unusual mole checked.
Are there ways to prevent moles from appearing?
I always tell my patients to be appropriately careful about sun exposure. Wear sunscreen, of course, and protective clothing. Don't use tanning booths at all. Safe sun practices protect you from moles forming and from developing skin cancer.
How do I know if a mole has changed?
Be aware of your moles, where they are and what they look like. You can map them on a chart or take photos. But the best plan is to see a dermatologist regularly for a skin check. That way we can determine if any moles are possible problems and remove them.
I've always had a mole on my face. Should I be concerned about it?
Generally, this is something that is determined by the look of it when I see you in our office. Sometimes, I need to take a closer look with a magnifying glass called a dermatoscope.
Interestingly, most moles on the face are usually harmless, but it is the ones on the body that cause issues. That doesn't mean that we don't ever see problem moles or skin cancers on the face, but those are often seen and taken care of earlier, while the ones that are on the body remain unobserved and dangerous.
What is the biggest misconception you see regarding moles?
The biggest misconception is that a flat mole is going to be okay, while a growing mole is what is concerning. The truth is that the dark, flat moles are what can truly harm you. Melanoma looks like a dark, flat mole and the larger, raised moles are often (although not always) benign and won't hurt you.
Of course, anything is possible, so if you have a mole that is changing or growing, you should come in for evaluation and never think it is a silly thing to be checked as I have seen way too many melanomas and patients who were apologetic about having me look at a mole that turned out to be a skin cancer.
Make an appointment today
Contact Skin Specialists in Omaha, Nebraska for an evaluation for treatment of your skin condition.