Moles are brown or black spots on the skin. They can have different shapes, colors and textures. For the most part, they are harmless. However, in some cases moles can be malignant. The Office of Dr. U encourages patients who are interested in removing moles to first understand a general background of what causes them to develop, different types, treatment and warning signs to be vigilant of.
Causes of Moles
Moles are the result of melanocytes clustering together as a result of hormonal changes or harmful UV rays. These are specialized cells that produce a pigment called melanin which gives the skin its color and to protect it from harmful UV rays.
Types of Moles: Terminology
Regular shapes include circles or ovals. They are symmetrical.
With irregular shapes, one side looks different from the other. This makes them asymmetrical
(3) Different colors
In individuals with lighter skin, brown and red moles are common. Black moles are common in people with darker skin. Flesh colored moles can be found in those of African descent.
(4) Raised and Flat
The clusters of melanocytes can be close to the skin’s surface. This causes them to be raised. These clusters can also exist within deeper skin layers. Therefore, they will appear flat.
(5) Junctional Nevus
This type of mole can be black or brown. It develops at the junction where the epithelial layer and dermis meets in the skin.
(6) Intradermal Nevus
The intradermal nevus can be raised or flesh colored. This mole resides exclusively in the dermis layer.
(7) Compound Nevus
The compound nevus is a raised mole which occurs as either brown or black in coloration. It is more commonly known as a beauty mark. The compound nevus may be found either in the epithelial/dermal juncture or entirely in the dermis layer.
(8) Dysplastic Nevus
The dysplastic nevus may carry a similar appearance to melanoma. It is often larger than average moles with irregular borders and coloration. Additionally the cells which make up this lesion are developed and arranged abnormally.
(9) Blue Nevus
The melanocytes of the blue nevus are scattered within the cluster. Also they are shaped as spindles and embedded deep within the dermis.
(10) Spitz Nevus
The Spitz nevus is considered to be an intradermal nevus which is typically red and raised above the surface of the skin.
(11) Congenital Nevus
The congenital nevus is present at birth and occurs in 1 out of a 100 babies. This mole carries a rather high potential for developing into melanoma.
(12) Acquired Nevus
The acquired nevus develops later in life. Melanocytes can be junctional, compound or intradermal.
(13) Giant Pigmented Nevus
The giant pigmented nevus is rather large in size and is often characterized by prolific hair growth. Melanoma tends to develop in about 10-15% of cases.
How Patients Can Examine Their Moles
A formal examination to determine whether or not a mole is benign or malignant would need to be conducted by a qualified doctor.
However, here is a simple criteria that patients can use when looking for possible warning signs.
- Whether or not the left side mirrors the right side in appearance. Lack of symmetry is a characteristic to be vigilant of.
- Whether or not the border of the mole is solid and well defined. Individuals should be very aware of fuzzy or irregular borders
- Common moles will have a uniform color that remains constant over time. Potentially problematic moles will have multiple colors that may change.
- The diameter of benign moles are generally no larger than the tip of a pencil eraser, or about 7mm
E- evolution/ elevation
- The concept of elevation when it comes to moles has to do with one part of the lesion being raised higher than the other. Evolution refers to noticeable changes that the mole undergoes over time.
There are two main type of treatments for moles. These include:
The technique used in surgical removal will depend on how high they are raised above the skin. Raised tissue can be excised at the base. These cases usually do not need stitches. With flat moles, excisions need to be performed around the perimeter. And this will require sutures for wound closure.
To get rid of benign moles, Dr. Umar uses the Q-Switch Nd; YAG laser which results in less scarring and better overall cosmetic results. The laser energy works by destroying the melanocyte cluster. It can also work by sealing off the blood vessels which supply oxygen and nutrients to the raised tissue growth.
In cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen is applied to the surface of the skin in order to freeze the mole and destroy it. If the melanocyte cluster is deep within the skin, then probes may be used to administer the liquid nitrogen.
Patients should be aware that there is a high risk of skin color loss when choosing cryotherapy.
Common Questions About Mole Removal
What is considered to be a normal number of moles that a person can have on their body?
Having up to 40 moles is considered to be quite normal.
What is the difference between common moles and the moles associated with Dermatosa Papilosa Nigra?
DPN moles are believed to result from the abnormal development of hair (psilosebaceous) follicles. On the other hand, common skin moles result from melanocytes.
Also, Dermatosa Papilosa Nigra tends to occur in blacks and Asians. These lesions are completely benign. With DPN moles, there is a chance that new lesions will continue to develop on the skin, even after a removal procedure. Common moles have a much lower probability of recurring.
Procedures To Remove Moles For Los Angeles Patients
If you are interested in learning more about your condition and available treatment options for moles or other forms of skin discolorations. sign up for a complimentary consultation. You may fill out our online consultation form at the top of the page. Or you may call our office at 877-337-6424.