Moles are any spot or irregularity in the skin which develops from overgrowth of melanocytes. Melanocytes are pigment producing cells of the skin. A mole is also called a nevus. Moles are very common and are usually round or oval in shape. They may be present at birth (congenital mole) or may appear later (acquired mole). Another type of mole is an atypical mole or dysplastic mole which is usually larger, irregularly shaped and may be of uneven color. Atypical moles have a greater tendency to develop into a serious type of skin cancer called melanoma. Atypical moles are composed of pigmented cells called melanocytes. Risk of cancer is less with an acquired mole; however large numbers do increase the risk of melanoma.
Moles vary in color; they can be pink, yellow-brown or dark brown. The skin mole can be small or large and can be flat or raised and smooth or hairy. It can occur on any part of the body.
Moles can develop by both genetic factors and by sun exposure.
Most moles are harmless and do not require treatment but can be removed for cosmetic reasons. In some cases they can become cancerous and are called melanomas. Atypical moles may be watched and monitored by your physician or biopsied to determine if they are cancerous. If melanoma is diagnosed, your surgeon will discuss treatment options with you.
Moles can be removed surgically by two methods:
- Excision: Cutting the mole out followed by stitches to close the skin if necessary.
- Excision with cauterization: This method involves using a cautery tool to burn away the mole.
Risks and Complications
- Allergic reaction to anesthetic
- Nerve damage
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See complete Wikipedia article here.
For more information from the American Academy of Dermatology click here.