How Skin Moles Work

Skin Mole Removal

Your doctor may recommend that an atypical mole be removed for health reasons, or you may decide to have a mole removed for cosmetic reasons. Either way, mole removal is a relatively low-risk procedure. The surgery itself may result in light scarring, depending on the type of mole that is removed, but your doctor can give you a better idea of how the area will look after surgery depending on the type of method used.

The two most widely used forms of mole removal are excision followed by stitches and excision with cauterization [source: eMedicine]. The first method involves cutting off the mole and resealing the wound with stitches. In the second method, a tool burns away the mole, cauterizing, or sealing, the wound as the mole is removed. Both methods are outpatient procedures during which the patient undergoes anesthesia, resulting in minimal pain.

Doctors have also tried laser treatment to remove moles, but this method doesn't penetrate as deeply as the other methods, which can be problematic for moles with deeper roots beneath the skin [source eMedicine].

Dermatologists may have many reasons for removing a mole with surgical excision. If a mole has become irritating to the skin or shows warning signs of melanoma, a doctor may remove the mole to prevent it from becoming cancerous. Individuals may also choose to remove moles for cosmetic reasons, to improve the appearance of the skin or to remove a mole that, though not medically worrisome, has become larger over time [source American Academy of Dermatology].

Individuals concerned about mole growth for medical or cosmetic reasons should consult with a dermatologist to determine whether to remove it and to determine the best method of removal.

Want more information on moles and other skin conditions? Follow the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Atypical Moles: How to Recognize." SkinCancerNet. 2009. (Accessed 8/9/09)
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Moles." 2007. (Accessed 8/8/09)
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. "Melanoma: A Kind of Skin Cancer." May 2006. (Accessed 8/10/09)
  • Bakalar, Nicholas. "Having Moles May Mean Younger Skin Cells." The New York Times. July 24, 2007. (Accessed 8/10/09) http://query.nytimes.comgst/fullpage.html?res=9C06E6D81138F937A15754C0A9619C8B63&scp=2&sq=moles&st=nyt
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Moles, Freckles, Skin Tags, Benign Lentigines, and Seborrheic Keratoses." 2009. (Accessed 8/10/09)
  • eMedicineHealth. "Mole Removal." July 14, 2009. (Accessed 8/10/09)
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Moles: Causes." February 19, 2008. (Accessed 8/9/09)
  • National Cancer Institute. "Melanoma." September 16, 2002. (Accessed 8/10/09)
  • National Cancer Institute. "Moles." September 16, 2002. (Accessed 8/9/09)
  • WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Moles, Freckles and Skin Tags." March 1, 2007. (Accessed 8/7/09)