Moles can be a nuisance, especially if they are in highly noticeable areas like the face. You may be interested in having your mole removed for cosmetic reasons but are worried that you will be left with a scar. After all, why remove one unsightly mark just to replace it with another?
In this article, we will discuss the process of having a mole removed, including the different methods that your dermatologist may recommend. Some procedures are more likely to cause scarring than others, but there are a number of revision techniques and preventative measures you can take that will allow you to confidently schedule your mole removal appointment.
If you are looking for mole removal or scar revision surgery, Wall Street Dermatology offers both. Dr. Julia Tzu is a triple board-certified dermatologist in NYC that specializes in surgical and cosmetic dermatology to safely and effectively remove moles. She also expertly performs surgical scar revision, laser treatments, and other noninvasive procedures to reduce the appearance of mole removal scars from other surgeons.
The Mole Removal Process
There are a number of ways that your dermatologist can remove moles from your face and body. Shave and surgical excisions are the most common, but other treatments like electrodessication and laser mole removal are other options to help remove an entire mole.
During a shave removal, your dermatologist will first numb the area with injections of anesthesia, then use a special blade to shave off the raised mole and level it out with the rest of your skin. To reduce the chance of scarring and specifically developing keloid scars, our dermatologist will cauterize the wound to promote scar healing.
While shave removal is a less invasive procedure than surgery, it does not guarantee that the mole will be completely removed. Because the roots of the mole may still be present at the base, there can still be some pigment at the base of the mole, and the mole could grow back. The tissue that is removed is also sent out to a laboratory for confirmation analysis.
If you are looking to completely remove a mole and reduce the likelihood of it growing back, surgical excision is the best option. During this procedure, your dermatologist will first numb the area with injections of anesthesia before surgically cutting out the mole with a scalpel, separating it from the rest of your skin, and removing it with tweezers or forceps. The tissue is then sent to a laboratory for confirmation analysis.
To ensure that all of the mole tissue is removed, your doctor may also remove a small amount of healthy skin around the mole. They will then apply pressure or cauterize the area to stop bleeding before stitching the wound closed. While surgical excisions are the most effective at removing both benign and malignant moles, they are also the most likely to leave a scar.
Laser removal uses focused light energy to destroy the mole tissue. This is the least invasive method and only appropriate for small, superficial, non-cancerous moles. Deeper moles will not respond to laser removal. Scarring is usually minimal if performed with a Q-switched laser.
While laser treatment is convenient and less invasive than excisions or shave removals, it isn’t always the best option compared to traditional surgery. Since the tissue is destroyed, your dermatologist won’t be able to send it to the lab for confirmation of diagnosis, and you have a higher chance of the mole growing back.
Similar to laser removal, electrodessication is noninvasive and less likely to scar. However, electrodessication is used mostly for benign growths such as seborrheic keratoses, fibrous papules, and sebaceous hyperplasias. These growths are often called “moles” by patients, but represent a different diagnosis from benign nevi (true moles).
What Does a Mole Removal Scar Look Like?
The appearance of a mole removal scar depends on the size and location of the mole itself and the removal method used by your dermatologist. In the initial days post-procedure, the body’s natural healing process results in a scar that is thick and dense due to the production of collagen. This stage may leave the area red, rough, and slightly raised.
As the scar matures, typically over a period of several weeks to months, it gradually becomes less red, flatter, and less noticeable. The average healing time can extend up to a year, during which the scar’s color and texture continue to improve, eventually blending more seamlessly with the surrounding skin.
It’s important to note that healing of scars can vary, and some individuals may be prone to abnormal scarring, such as hypertrophic or keloid scars, when the body produces too much collagen. This can result in a scar that is more raised and prominent. It can also mean that it grows over time rather than diminishing, specifically in the case of keloid scars.
When Are Scars Visible After Mole Removal?
Scars from mole removal are typically visible shortly after the procedure as part of the body’s natural healing process. During the initial inflammatory stage, which begins about 12 hours post-procedure and lasts for roughly five days, the area may appear red and slightly swollen. This is followed by the proliferation stage, where the scar becomes more pronounced and can last around several weeks.
The visibility of most mole removal scars gradually diminishes over time, entering the maturation stage, which can extend up to a year. In this final phase, the scar continues to heal and reshape, becoming less noticeable. This is when the scar’s color and texture improve significantly, blending more with the surrounding skin.
Factors That Can Affect Scarring
Scarring after a mole removal procedure will vary depending on various factors, including the quality of your skin, the location of the mole, which removal procedure you had done, and your postoperative care of the surgical site.
Young patients with thicker and tighter skin are at higher risk for scarring than older patients with thinner and looser skin, as tighter skin tends to create more tension across the scar line.
Moles located on areas of the body that are more prone to movement will scar less optimally. For example, the neck, chest, shoulders, and back are locations that tend to scar poorly. Movement of skin around the scar tends to activate scar tissue and make it more visible.
Process You Choose
As previously mentioned, laser and electrodessication aren’t as invasive as shave removals and surgical excisions, meaning you are less likely to see scarring after these procedures. However, non-surgical mole removal methods increase the chance of the mole growing back, and you may eventually need to have an excision to remove the mole.
How Long Does It Take a Mole Removal Scar to Fade?
Depending on your age, level of aftercare, procedure, and the type of scar you develop you should expect the scar from your mole removal to start fading at 3 months. Scar tissue biologically takes over a year to fully mature, and the final appearance of the scar can be expected around one year after the surgery.
During the time in which your scar is healing, you should begin aftercare methods to reduce scarring, such as keeping the area protected from trauma and sun exposure.
Ways To Prevent and Reduce Scarring
While scarring after mole removal may occur, you can take a few precautions to prevent or reduce scar formation.
Proper Mole Removal Aftercare
After your mole removal, your dermatologist will clean the area, stitch it, and cover it with a bandage. Continue to keep the wound clean and moisturized by washing it with mild soap, applying bacitracin ointment or vaseline petroleum jelly to the area, and covering the wound site with a bandage.
Avoid The Sun
While your mole removal scar is still fresh, you should do everything possible to keep it out of the sun, including wearing a hat or other sun-protective clothing, applying sunscreen once the wound has healed, or keeping it covered with a bandage. Exposure to sunlight can cause any scarring to become dark and discolored.
Don’t Stretch The Scar
Your scar can become larger or disfigured if you stretch the skin while it is still healing. Try to avoid stretching body parts with healing scars, and be gentle when applying moisturizers and ointments to the scar.
Laser Treatments and Light Therapy
Laser treatments are a great way to reduce the appearance of scars, especially those that are discolored. Lasers are used to stimulate collagen production and blend the pigmentation with surrounding skin to improve scarring that is red or pink in color.
Laser scar treatment, scar revision surgery, and microneedling are all great ways to reduce scarring and stimulate the production of healthy tissue. Surgical scar revision is the most common for treating mole removal and other post-operative scars, but all methods are effective for reducing excess scar tissue and improving color or texture.
If you are looking to reduce your mole removal scar through scar revision treatments in New York City, Wall Street Dermatology offers all of the scar revision treatments mentioned above.
What to Do If You Have a Mole Removal Scar
If you still have a noticeable scar after you have fully healed, you can begin to consider laser therapy or scar revision surgery. Injectable treatments and microneedling can improve deep or pitted scars by stimulating the growth of new cells and resurfacing your skin’s texture.
Keloid After Mole Removal? Is It Possible?
Keloids can sometimes develop after mole removal, depending on your body’s unique response to healing.
A keloid is a type of overactive, prominent, raised scar that can develop on your skin following an injury or surgical incision. If your body produces an excess of collagen during the healing process, it can lead to the formation of a keloid.
Factors such as genetics, age, location on the body, and ethnicity can play a significant role. Studies show that people with darker skin, as well as those with a family history of keloids, are more prone to developing these types of scars.
While keloids are difficult to predict with certainty, a dermatologist can assess your individual risk factors and recommend the most appropriate mole removal method to minimize the chances of keloid formation. Be sure to discuss any concerns you might have with your dermatologist.
Get a Mole Removal From a Triple Board Certified Dermatologist at Wall Street Dermatology
If you have a mole or scar that is causing you discomfort or embarrassment, contact the experienced professionals at Wall Street Dermatology in New York City. Dr. Julia Tzu, MD, FAAD, specializes in cosmetic dermatology, laser surgery, and reconstructive skin surgery to effectively and safely perform mole removal and scar revision procedures.
Wall Street Dermatology offers cosmetic mole removal, skin cancer removal, surgical scar revision, laser treatments, microneedling, and more to ensure that our clients receive the best care, from the first consultation to their fully healed skin. Book your appointment today for a mole removal consultation with Dr. Julia Tzu.