What’s the Best Way to Remove a Non-Cancerous Mole?

by Salvatore Pacella, MD

When to get screened for skin cancer and remove moles

by Salvatore Pacella, MD

Moles, particularly non-cancerous ones, can be easily removed with a minor surgical procedure, which can be done in an outpatient setting. Moles can be surgically removed, burned away or shaved off. There is a minor risk of infection, but side effects are generally minor.

Perhaps the biggest downside to mole removal is the remaining scar. When removing the mole surgically, we use extremely fine suturing techniques to prevent excess scarring and make the incision line heal as inconspicuously as possible. Burning or shaving off the mole will effectively eliminate it, but the scarring may be quite noticeable.

Once the mole is removed, it should be examined for microscopic signs of skin cancer. It is not uncommon for a skin cancer to arise from a mole, and is only found after the mole is thoroughly examined by a pathologist. A board certified plastic surgeon would approach mole removal like any other cosmetic procedure — with fine technique to minimize scarring. It is important to keep in mind that removal of non-pigmented moles may not be covered by insurance. Your surgeon can assist you in applying for approval.

This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Salvatore Pacella, MD, FACS, a cosmetic, plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Scripps Clinic in San Diego.