By age 20, it’s completely normal to have 10-40 moles on your skin. And in most cases, moles are harmless. Some moles, however, stem from skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States.
At our offices in Scarsdale and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, board-certified cosmetic surgeon Robert M. Schwarcz, MD, performs mole removal surgery to help ensure the health of your skin and body. In this blog, we delve into moles, including related health issues and options for removal.
Health risks related to moles
If you have more than 50 moles or several large ones, you may hold a heightened risk of melanoma. While melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer, it’s also the most lethal. Having more than 50 moles might also be linked with your likelihood of breast cancer.
And while it’s not very common, a lesion that mimics a mole can crop up as an early sign of breast cancer or an indication that breast cancer you’re already aware of has worsened.
When a mole points to skin cancer
Anytime you have an unusual mole, getting checked out by a professional is wise. Thankfully, all skin cancers, including melanoma, are quite treatable when detected early on.
Signs that your mole might indicate melanoma include:
- Bleeding or oozing
- Jagged edges
- Rapid changes, such growing larger
- Swelling, itchiness, or pain
- A change in texture, such as scales
Signs that your mole is linked with other types of skin cancer include:
- Flat, firm, pale, or yellow areas
- Raised itchy or reddish patches
- Pink, red, or translucent shiny bumps
While the most common skin cancers — basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma — aren’t as serious or life-threatening as melanoma, early diagnosis and treatment are still important for your health and well-being.
Routine skin exams with your dermatologist are important if you’re showing signs of skin cancer or have heightened risk due to factors like history of sun tanning or sunburns or you have light hair and eyes.
Mole removal procedures
If you have a bothersome mole, whether it’s benign, cancerous, or precancerous, numerous removal techniques can help. Dr. Schwarcz surgically removes moles in the office, taking special care to protect surrounding skin. We offer both laser and traditional surgical approaches. The mole is sent to a lab for biopsy to confirm whether or not it is cancerous.
If you have skin cancer, you may benefit from Mohs surgery, a highly effective procedure that removes cancerous cells, layer by layer. Dr. Schwarcz will refer you to a dermatologist who will perform the procedure. Depending on the location and size of the Mohs, you may want a plastic surgeon to perform the closure. Dr. Schwarcz performs the Mohs closure procedure to create the most visually appealing results after your dermatologist has removed the harmful cells, so you’ll have the least possible scarring to worry about.
To learn more about moles and related health risks or to get started with your desired treatment, call the office convenient to you to book a consultation today. You can also request an appointment online.