What is a Mole?
Moles, also known as melanocytic nevi or pigmented nevi, are pigmented areas or spots on the skin. Melanocytes, the cells that give skin its color, can form benign moles. However, these spots can change in color or shape, or feel tender to the touch. Changes may occur to the patient’s skin due to heredity or after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds. The appearance of a mole can indicate a precancerous condition or skin cancer. It’s essential to contact the dermatologist right away when a new lesion appears or an existing one changes in color, border, or sensitivity. Goodman Dermatology offers medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatments and therapies to patients in search of healthy, beautiful skin.
How do these lesions appear?
Pigmented nevi can look flesh-colored on individuals with light skin. The lesions can also present in a range of colors, including black, blue, brown, yellow, or even white. Harvard University School of Medicine reports that it’s common practice for the dermatologist to suggest that patients remove new melanocytic nevi when they appear. Dr. Marcus B. Goodman and associates assist patients with full body and mole check services.
Why should I be concerned?
The Skin Cancer Foundation says that melanocytic nevi that appear after sun exposure are less concerning than genetic varieties. These lesions may indicate melanoma, a virulent form of skin cancer. Most melanoma lesions cause no pain but it’s important to report any pigmented nevi that become painful or tender. Because melanoma “burrows” into the skin cells, it may spread to other parts of the body through the blood or lymph systems. Melanoma lesions tend to present most frequently on the legs in women, but this form of cancer can appear and then spread to any part of the body. To learn more about melanoma, click here.
How do I check these lesions to make sure I don’t have melanoma?
The Melanoma Research Foundation says that melanocytes can progress from a benign to cancerous state fairly quickly. It’s important to perform regular self-checks and let the dermatologist know about any changes to pigmented nevi or new lesions. The dermatologist should perform skin cancer checks, such as full body screens, at least once a year or more often (usually once every three to six months) if the patient is at risk. The patient should also perform self-exams at least once per month. It’s impossible for the patient to determine whether he or she has skin cancer simply by looking at the lesions. A biopsy is necessary.
What should I look for during a self-check?
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the “A-B-C-D-E’s” relating to pigmented lesions: asymmetry; border; color; diameter (greater than one-fourth inch); and evolution (changes). Any of these symptoms may indicate a precancerous or cancerous lesion. Call the dermatologist right away to report these symptoms.
How does the doctor remove these melanocytic nevi?
There are several ways to remove the lesions. The doctor may perform an excision to surgically remove the nevi. The patient will probably need stitches after the procedure because it’s necessary to remove a portion of the surrounding, apparently healthy-looking skin along with the mole.
The lesion may also be cauterized. The physician uses a razor-type tool to shave the nevi from the skin. Afterwards, the remaining skin is sealed by burning or freezing to remove any remaining dangerous cells. There’s usually no need for stitches after the procedure. He or she is likely to have a scar when the skin heals.
I’ve heard about laser treatments. Could the doctor use a laser to remove these lesions?
Laser removal of the nevus may also be an option. Because the laser sees the pigments in the patient’s skin, the treatment is very effective. Pigmented melanocyte cells destroyed by the laser; the body reabsorbs the dead cells. Although the skin may look red or inflamed after laser removal, the patient’s skin is less likely to suffer scarring. Goodman Dermatology offers a variety of treatment options to patients with confirmed diseases of the skin.
Do these treatments hurt?
The patient’s comfort is always a high priority for Goodman Dermatology. A topical anesthetic is provided prior to removing a pigmented nevus or nevi. Discuss any concerns about treatment recommendations during the office consultation. Patient education is very important.
What happens after my treatment? Is there any downtime?
A patient with multiple melanocytic nevi may need a brief recovery period. It’s important to keep the skin very clean after the lesions are removed through any method. Skin will heal faster if the area is covered with an appropriate post-surgical dressing. Since rest will speed recovery and prevent the skin from stretching, it’s a good idea to avoid intense physical activity after this type of procedure.
Is this treatment permanent?
The excision or removal of a mole doesn’t prevent new lesions from forming, sometimes in the same spot. Vigilance is required to keep the skin clear of new lesions in the future.
Should I stay out of the sun if my skin naturally forms pigmented spots?
It’s important to avoid the sun as much as possible. Dr. Marcus B. Goodman will recommend after care products, including high SPF sunscreens, to patients with the tendency to freckle or form pigmented nevi. Many patients purchase sun-protective clothing to help protect their skin from damaging UV light.
Patients with moles should work with an experienced, board-certified dermatologist. Those living in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Woodstock, Canton, Holly Springs, Dawsonville, Dunwoody, Northeast Cobb County, and Cumming should call Dr. Marcus B. Goodman now at (770) 754-0787.
Offices in Roswell, GA and Woodstock, GA.