Recently, a couple of patients of mine were concerned about their moles and were thinking of having their moles removed. I told them that it’s perfectly normal for any person to worry about moles as there are times where they could be a health risk and/or symptom of deadly diseases such as melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer. Thankfully, there are a couple of indications that can tell us whether a mole may be a risk or not. Moles are mostly harmless, but it can never hurt to have them checked.
There were also a lot of patients that wanted to have their moles removed for cosmetic reasons. A lot of them told me that they’ve struggled with their self-confidence and were insecure about their appearance because of their moles. I reassured them that there’s no need to worry since there are several procedures they can choose from here in Singapore if they want to have a safe and successful facial mole removal.
Whatever your concern is about moles, it is important to stay informed and be able to make the correct decisions. Keep reading to learn more about moles, their risks and how you can get them removed.
The ABCDE Rule
Moles are caused by a high concentration of melanin produced by melanocytes on a specific spot of your skin. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but there are indications when a mole is abnormal or dangerous. One rule that doctors follow to identify potentially dangerous moles is the ABCDE rule. It stands for:
A – is for ASYMMETRICAL. Using a pen or any straight implement, try to line it up on top of your mole so that it divides the mole into two equally shaped albeit flipped parts. If you can’t, then your mole might be dangerous, and you should have it checked.
B – is for BORDER. Your mole should have a border that is a well-defined, continuous line with no irregular pattern. If your mole has a scalloped border, it may be a symptom of a skin condition such as melanoma.
C – is for COLOR. Each mole normally has a single, even colour – usually brown, tan, black, blue, red or pink. It is not normal to have different colours in a single mole. Have your mole checked if it exhibits multiple colours, or if its colour changes over time.
D – is for DIAMETER. Moles are usually small, with diameters of less than 6mm. If your mole is unusually large, it may be a good time to talk to your dermatologist.
E – is for EVOLUTION. Usually when a mole forms, its appearance is set and does not change drastically. This is why if a mole’s appearance ‘evolves’ over time, and changes size, colour, shape or height, it may be potentially dangerous. Have it checked immediately as this can indicate melanoma.
If your family has a history of skin cancer, have yourself checked as well, no matter the appearance of your moles. Some dangerous moles can appear normal and harmless.
Monitoring and Managing Moles
Protect yourself from the sun!
One thing I always preach to my patients is to always have a form of sun protection. The sun is a giant ball of light and energy that stimulates your melanocytes to produce more melanin which in turn causes moles to appear. It also radiates harmful ultraviolet (UV) light that can cause skin cancer.
Make sure to always wear sunscreen (SPF 30+) and bring an umbrella or hat when you go outside. People with light skin complexion are more prone to sun damage and would need extra care.
Check and monitor your moles periodically.
If you are especially concerned about your mole/s and are planning to have it checked, one thing you can do is to monitor and take photos of your moles. At least once a month, check for new moles and if there are changes in size, shape, and colour on your preexisting moles. This data will be especially valuable for your dermatologist and can assist in getting an accurate diagnosis.
Home Remedies that Might Help in Facial Mole Removal
None of these home remedies have been shown to be effective by scientific research, but a lot of people swear on their effectiveness. It wouldn’t hurt to try these out and see if they work:
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Apply a few drops of apple cider vinegar on your mole using a piece of cotton. Also, apply some petroleum jelly on the skin surrounding your mole to protect from the acidity of the vinegar. Set the cotton in place using some tape and let it soak for 1-2 hours. Do this 3 times a day for 4 weeks or more.
- Garlic Paste – If you don’t have any apple cider vinegar lying around in your house, you can alternatively use crushed or ground garlic paste. Apply petroleum jelly around the mole and wrap a bandage around the paste to secure its position. Leave the bandage on for 3 to 4 hours before you remove it. Do this once a day for 3 weeks or more.
- Banana Peel – Cover your mole with a banana peel and secure it with some bandage or tape. Do this every night until the mole’s appearance becomes lighter.
Again, I do not claim that these remedies will work for you. If you’re looking for a sure and permanent solution to mole removal, then there are multiple options available right now.
Mole Removal Procedures in Singapore
Before you proceed with any of these procedures, make sure that you consult your dermatologist so that he/she can suggest the best options for you.
If you’re considering surgery, your dermatologist may subject you to a series of tests to ensure you are healthy and able before clearing you for surgery. There are three main surgery options for mole removal available right now:
- Shave Excision Surgery
This procedure is usually done if the mole protrudes or looks like a bump on the skin’s surface. A local anaesthetic is first applied to the mole’s surrounding area. The doctor then uses a small scalpel to ‘shave’ off the mole from your skin until it becomes flat and level with the rest of your skin’s surface. Some bleeding will occur, and your doctor may apply some pressure and topical medicine to stop it.
- Punch Biopsy
If your mole is small, circular and its pigmentation goes under the skin, then your doctor may recommend a punch biopsy. Local anaesthesia is applied using injection on the surrounding area. This may cause a mild burning sensation on your skin for a few seconds. The doctor will then use a circular tool that “punches out” a small area of your skin that includes the mole the underlying layer of skin. Some stitches may be needed, after which a dressing or bandage is applied over the site to protect the wound from bleeding. Some scarring will occur but will disappear eventually.
- Excisional Biopsy
This is similar to a punch biopsy where it targets moles that affect underlying skin layers. However, this procedure can also be used for irregularly shaped moles. Instead of using a circular punch tool, the doctor uses a scalpel and cuts off a deep lump of skin including the mole. Local anaesthesia is required to minimize the pain and discomfort felt by the patient. The wound left from the surgery will require stitches and expect some faint scarring to occur after a few days.
Surgical methods for general and facial mole removal cost around $100 to $500 per mole depending on the mole size and shape.
Cryotherapy is a non-surgical procedure that involves the use of liquid nitrogen (or some other cooling substance) to freeze and destroy the skin cells on the mole. After the mole’s cells die, your body’s natural processes will eventually flush out these dead cells.
This may cause parts of your skin to peel off and will lighten the appearance of the treated mole. A single mole may require 2 or more sessions of cryotherapy before it can be fully removed and is based on a variety of factors such as skin type and mole size. Cryotherapy costs around $200 per session.
Electrocautery is a fast, cheap, non-surgical procedure of mole removal. It works by heating the mole using a handheld device powered by an electric current. No anaesthesia is needed and is done in only a few minutes. Another advantage of this procedure is that there is almost no scarring. However, electrocautery is only effective for the removal of small, flat moles. Electrocautery costs around $100 or more for each mole being removed.
- Laser Treatment
If you want a non-surgical, and almost painless procedure then a laser mole removal treatment may be your best bet. Similar to electrocautery, laser mole removal can only be done on flat, superficial moles. The same principle is used wherein the mole is heated using a laser instead of an electric current. The heat, in turn, destroys the skin cells, which is naturally flushed out by the body during recovery. A scab will form on the area, which will eventually fall off. Each laser session will lighten the mole’s pigmentation, and 2 to 3 sessions may be required to fully remove it. Laser treatments cost about $150 to $450 per session and depends on the number, size and shape of moles to be removed.
Mole removal in Singapore can be done for a variety of reasons and there are procedures that can cater to your specific needs. Even if it’s just for cosmetic reasons, talk to your doctor first before proceeding with mole removal procedures to ensure that your needs are taken into consideration when choosing a procedure.