Borderline Moles -- Monitor Or Remove?

If your dermatologist has identified one or more suspicious moles on your body -- those that could become cancerous in the future if left unchecked -- you may be wondering about your next steps. Although surgical removal of problem moles is always an option, recently many dermatologists have chosen to take a "watchful waiting" approach to these growths. Read on to learn more about this treatment method, as well as specific situations in which it is more advantageous to go ahead and have these moles or other skin growths removed. 

Why choose a "watchful waiting" approach? 

Under this method, you'll periodically visit your dermatologist so that he or she can carefully examine your mole(s) for any changes. Your dermatologist may take digital photographs of your mole(s) so that he or she can compare them from year to year. Even if a mole looks suspicious or precancerous, if there are no rapid changes in its appearance it is highly unlikely that this mole has progressed to a cancerous form. 

This method is often used when the moles are on a highly visible area of the body, particularly the face. Many patients don't want to deal with the potential pain or scarring often associated with surgical removal. Some patients may develop keloid scarring after a mole removal (this is most common among African American individuals).  

However, this method is not without its own risks. Because moles can change quickly, if yours is on an area of your body you can't see, it may transition well before your next appointment. If you choose this method, be sure to have a friend or loved one give you a quick once-over between visits. 

When should you choose surgical removal of precancerous moles?

There are some situations in which surgical removal remains the best option. If your dermatologist determines that your suspicious mole or growth is a particularly quickly-growing type, waiting to remove it could pose great health risks. And if you know that you're unlikely to make the necessary follow up appointments so that your dermatologist can assess your mole growth, avoiding surgery could put you in danger. 

If you do choose to have your moles removed, applying Vitamin E oil to the area can significantly reduce the odds of scarring. You should also refrain from smoking while you recover -- nicotine damages the tiny capillaries at your skin's surface, causing you to heal more slowly. 

In any case, you'll want to seek the opinion of a professional dermatologist. Contact Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center or another local dermatologist to determine if your mole(s) might need to be treated.