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Moles (Nevus/Nevi)

What is it?

Moles, also known as nevus/nevi, beauty mark or birth marks, are benign (non-cancerous) pigmented growths in the skin that can appear anywhere in the body.

Are they Dangerous?

Strictly speaking, moles are benign (non-cancerous) lesions and are indolent. They may increase in size but very minimally over several years to decades and do not pose any harm to an individual’s health. However, moles can look very similar to a pigmented skin cancer called melanomas, the most dangerous types of skin cancer, and be a health threat. If you are concerned about a mole that has recently increased in size or you feel has change, you should see a physician to have the spot evaluated.

What's the Treatment?

Moles are benign lesions that do not need to be removed or treated. However, if there are changes in the lesions, it is always best to have it inspected by a physician. Some warning signs of moles changing into melanomas or becoming dysplastic can be summed by the ABCDE rule: A for asymmetry comparing one side to another B for irregular borders C for multiple or dark colours D for large diameter, E for evolution or changes to the mole. Treatment for a benign moles include surgical excision, cryotherapy, and laser removal. At the Canadian Plastic Surgery Centre surgical excision is preferential as it allows for pathology testing of the lesions to ensure that they are not cancer and further treatment is not needed. You can read more about melanomas or dysplastic moles HERE.

What happens after Treatment?

After the lesion is excised and closed with either permanent or dissolving sutures, the specimen is sent to a pathologist who examines it under the microscope to confirm the diagnosis and to ensure that the lesion is completely excised. 5-7days, if the lesion was on your face, or 10-14 days, if the lesion was on body parts other than the face, after your surgery, you come back to the office/clinic to review the pathology report, to check on your incision and to remove or trim your sutures.

What Causes it?

Moles appear when the pigmented cells in the body, called melanocytes, grow in a cluster together causing a darker pigmentation compared to the surround skin. The genetics and the amount of sun exposure some individual experiences are significant determining factors for the number moles formed in an individual

What do they look like?

Moles are tan or brown coloured lesions that can be raised or flat. They typically circumscribed and are circular or oval in shape.

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