A usual looking mole around the eyelid

Scars From Removing Moles : What Will Yours Look Like?

General, Surgeries

Scars from removing moles is a topic that all prospective patients should be familiar with. While mole removal is one of the most common minor skin procedures performed, it should not be overlooked that all mole removal procedures are likely to leave a scar of some sort. Read on to learn everything you kneed to know about scars from mole removal procedures and whether this procedure is right for you.

Benign Versus Suspicious Moles:

Mole removal scars are intimately related to the technique chosen to remove the mole. The technique used is, in turn, related to whether the mole is assessed by your health care professional to be benign (safe) or suspicious in appearance. It’s important to know the difference between benign and suspicious moles in order to gain a deeper understanding of which mole techniques are likely to suit your situation.

Benign Moles

These moles are considered free of any appearance or behavior patterns (eg rapid growth, bleeding) suspicious for cancerous changes. Scars from removing moles of this sort have a “head-start” because they are amenable to a wide variety of treatment options that may not be available for suspicious moles. Here are a few examples of benign-looking moles:

Suspicious Moles:

These moles have appearances or behaviour patterns suggestive of cancerous changes. Some of the visual cues to suspicious moles include asymmetry, irregular borders, variable colors within the same mole, larger size, spontaneous bleeding, and itching. Below is an example of a highly suspicious looking mole:

an irregular mole that is a melanoma
An irregular mole that is a melanoma skin cancer (©ScarScore Inc.)

When Is A Biopsy Necessary?

A strong argument can be made that all moles that are removed from the body should be sent for a biopsy. This is because any mole that doesn’t also undergo a biopsy may have harboured undetected pre-cancerous or even cancerous changes that will never be identified. This could put a patient at significant health risk down the road. On the other hand, some practitioners disagree with this concept and are comfortable using their own clinical judgment to decide if a mole should be sent for a laboratory biopsy analysis. Make sure to discuss the issue of a biopsy with your health care practitioner.

DISCUSS THE NEED FOR A MOLE BIOPSY WITH YOUR CHOSEN PRACTITIONER

Mole Removal Scars – Cosmetic Techniques:

Cosmetic techniques for mole removal apply to benign benign moles. With cosmetic mole removal, the main focus is on optimizing the mole removal scar. This can differ from suspicious mole excision which prioritizes other issues such as removing significant areas of skin around the mole which can exaggerate the mole removal scar. There are several options for cosmetic mole:

Scars From Removing Moles By Shaving

With this technique, the mole is shaved off at the skin level using a blade passed horizontally across the base of the mole. The result is a wound resembling an abrasion that heals on its own, usually over 7-14 days. A variation of shave excisions is called curettage which uses a scoop-shaped surgical blade to remove the mole. Shaving is generally reserved for moles that do not have deeper extensions into the skin. Shaving these types of moles can have a very high recurrence rate or be prone to leaving pitted, “ice-pick” type mole removal scars. Below is a summary of the pros and cons of shaving techniques with respect to scars from mole removals:

ProsCons
can heal beautifully with very minimal visible scarring when performed technically wellcan be prone to slow healing and pitted scarring
heal more as a blemish than a true scarhealed area may be lighter or darker than surrounding skin
Scar from shave of a facial mole
Blemish-like mark left by mole removal done by shave excision technique (photo taken 6 months after procedure) (©ScarScore Inc.)

Scars From Removing Moles By Excision & Stitching

Some benign moles are best treated by a deeper excision and stitching technique. This procedure is often chosen for moles that are larger and/or flush with the skin surface. Excision with stitching may minimize the mole removal scar because the wound is stitched closed, thereby decreasing healing time, and narrowing the wound. Pros and cons of this technique with respect to mole removal scars is summarized below:

ProsCons
stitching “narrows” the wound to a fine linealways forms a scar, the quality of which is very individualized
closure of the wound reduces the chance of an indented or “pitted” scarcan leave “hatch-marks” (dots along the side of the scar line) in some individuals
scar from facial mole excision
Good quality linear scar after facial mole removal by excision and stitching (photo taken 6 months after procedure) (©ScarScore Inc.)

Mole Removal Scars – Ablation Techniques

Ablation mole removal procedures destroy the mole on the surface of the skin as opposed to surgically removing it. Ablative techniques include laser, liquid nitrogen (freezing), electrosurgery (burning), and radio-frequency. Ablative mole removal leaves no useful tissue for a biopsy analysis to be performed, so these techniques are generally inappropriate for suspicious moles.

Mole Removal Scars – Suspicious Moles:

Suspicious mole removal procedures are surgical (shaves, curettages,, or excision with sutures). With suspicious moles, a lab analysis that can only be done with intact tissue is required for the laboratory to process and analyze. Techniques like freezing, lasering, and burning the mole are usually considered inappropriate for any mole that is considered suspicious.

Mole in a biopsy bottle
Biopsies need surgical techniques so the mole can be sent intact and undamaged to the lab (©ScarScore Inc.)

As such, scars from removing moles of this sort are subject to the discussion presented above regarding shaving, curettage, and excision with sutures. A further consideration is that suspicious moles are generally removed with an additional margin of skin around the edges to ensure the completeness of the removal. The implication of this is that the mole removal scar for suspicious moles may be larger in size/length than for benign, suspicious moles. The precise amount of extra skin that will need to be removed around a suspicious mole is guided by the extent of abnormality that your doctor suspects or that a previously done biopsy has indicated.

Excision of an abnormal facial mole showing surgical margins
A suspicious mole, like this cancerous melanoma, is removed with a substantial amount of extra skin, thereby significantly increasing the mole removal scar (©ScarScore Inc.)

What Will Your Scar From Mole Removal Look Like?

We’ve discussed how different techniques are applied to different types of moles and how this can effect scars from mole removal. But what will your own scar from mole removal look like?

Predicting exactly what an individual’s mole removal scar will look like is a huge challenge. This is because of the vast array of factors that contribute to the quality of a mole removal scar. These factors include the technique used (as outlined above), but also patient characteristics such as skin tone, genetics, and ongoing medical conditions as well as a complication-free healing process. When considering what types of scars from mole removal you may end up with, it’s worth looking at the main types of scars that any procedure or skin injury might produce:

Type Of ScarWhat They Look LikeExample
normal/maturefine, flat and blend well “good scars” Normal breast implant scar that is fine and flat
hypertrophicraised, red and thicker type of scar
keloidconsidered the worst scars extensively raised, thick, discolored; grow far outside the area of the injury to the skin Keloid skin scar that is very raised thick red and raised
widespreadflat, pale, wide, and stretched scars A wide flat stretched skin scar
“blemish”minimal scar, possibly some discoloration; usually from a well-executed shave or ablative mole removals blemish type scar from mole removal

The pictures above depict the main types of scars that can be seen after any surgical procedure is done. The exact type of mole removal scar you will form will usually fall into one of these categories, more-or-less. A dilemma for patients and practitioners alike is that predicting precisely how any one person will scar from removing moles. Some clues are your skin type, ethnicity, and the scars you already have on your body.

Mole Removal Scars – Aftercare

Different mole removal techniques will have different aftercare protocols. Shave excision and excision with sutures are dealt with somewhat differently. Also, different practitioners might have slightly different protocols. Clinics will provide verbal and written explanations of best aftercare practices. Some common instructions after mole removal include:

  • keeping the area dry for about 24-48 hours
  • avoiding immersion of your face in water for 10-14 days
  • being cautious or avoiding strenuous work and exercise for about a week

If non-dissolvable stitches are used for the procedure, you will need a follow up to have them removed. This will be scheduled for anywhere between 5-10 days after the procedure. Other follow-up visits, such as for bandage changes or routine wound care, will be determined by your doctor’s preferred routines and protocols.

Keep in mind that nearly any complication that slows or disrupts healing, such as an infection or stitches opening, can have deleterious effects on your mole removal scar. Dedicate the attention required to minimizing the chance for complications to occur in order to optimize your chances for excellent scars from mole removal.

Do Moles Grow Back?

Like any other surgical procedure, mole removal is not foolproof. Recurrence rates for mole removals can range from 1 to 10%. “Gentler”, less invasive procedures such as shavings or ablations can have a higher recurrence rate than deep excisions with stitching because of the increased chance that less invasive procedures leave some components of the mole behind. To that extent, lowering recurrence rates and minimizing mole removal scars can sometimes be somewhat “conflicting goals”.

LESS INVASIVE MOLE REMOVAL PROCEDURES MAY HAVE HIGHER A RECURRENCE RATE THAN MORE INVASIVE METHODS

Conclusion:

Removing a mole is generally a relatively simple procedure that can be highly gratifying to patients and practitioners. Always keep in mind, however, that even minimal surgical procedures will leave scars to some degree or another. The technique used, individual healing characteristics, and a smooth healing process will all contribute the final quality of your mole removal scar.

Medical References:

Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology vol. 7 89-103. 19 Mar. 2014, doi:10.2147/CCID.S57782

Rosendahl CO, Grant-Kels JM, Que SK. Dysplastic nevus: Fact and fiction. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015 Sep;73(3):507-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2015.04.029. Epub 2015 May 30. PMID: 26037217.

Sardana, Kabir et al. “Optimal management of common acquired melanocytic nevi (moles): current perspectives.” .

Zalaudek I, Docimo G, Argenziano G. Using dermoscopic criteria and patient-related factors for the management of pigmented melanocytic nevi. Arch Dermatol. 2009 Jul;145(7):816-26. doi: 10.1001/archdermatol.2009.115. PMID: 19620566; PMCID: PMC2856040.

Niamtu J 3rd. Esthetic removal of head and neck nevi and lesions with 4.0-MHz radio-wave surgery: a 30-year experience. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2014 Jun;72(6):1139-50. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2013.10.015. Epub 2013 Oct 31. PMID: 24388180.

Hocutt JE Jr. Skin cryosurgery for the family physician. Am Fam Physician. 1993 Sep 1;48(3):445-52, 455-6. PMID: 8155114.

Chopra A, Sharma R, Rao UNM. Pathology of Melanoma. Surg Clin North Am. 2020 Feb;100(1):43-59. doi: 10.1016/j.suc.2019.09.004. Epub 2019 Oct 29. PMID: 31753115.

Soft tissue lesions.in: Sauer G.C. Hall J.C. Manual of Skin Diseases (ed 7). Lippincott-Raven, Philadelphia, PA 1998: 338-342

Silverstein D, Mariwalla K. Biopsy of the pigmented lesions. Dermatol Clin. 2012 Jul;30(3):435-43. doi: 10.1016/j.det.2012.04.013. PMID: 22800550.

Iyengar S, Yeager DG, Cohen JL, Ozog DM. Update and Review of Bleeding Considerations in Dermatologic Surgery: Anticoagulants and Antiplatelets. Dermatol Surg. 2020 Feb;46(2):192-201. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000002266. PMID: 31743247.

Arguello-Guerra L, Vargas-Chandomid E, Díaz-González JM, Méndez-Flores S, Ruelas-Villavicencio A, Domínguez-Cherit J. Incidence of complications in dermatological surgery of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in patients with multiple comorbidity and/o

Reddy Bandral, Manjunatha et al. “A Comparative Evaluation of Surgical, Electrosurgery and Diode Laser in the Management of Maxillofacial Nevus.” Journal of maxillofacial and oral surgery vol. 17,4 (2018): 547-556. doi:10.1007/s12663-018-1081-8

The content (text, graphics, images, and all other materials) provided throughout this website is informational in nature only and does not constitute medical advice. The content provided on this website is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Any questions you have regarding any medical condition, treatment, intervention, pharmaceutical, vitamin, supplement, or other should be addressed with a qualified healthcare practitioner. ScarScore Inc. makes no guarantees whatsoever on the safety or efficacy of any of the treatments, products, or other medical interventions described on this website. Health conditions and drug information contained in the content of this website are subject to change and are not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. ScarScore Inc. does not endorse any test, healthcare practitioner, product, procedure, opinion, service, or other information that is described in the content of this website.