Asked by Jessica, Tucson, Arizona
I have a small mole on the tip of my nose. Can I have a small mole removed? What is the recovery time? Is it painful?
Living Well Expert
Dr. Jennifer Shu
Children's Medical Group
Thank you for your question. Moles are very common, with most people having at least one on their body; some people have 10 or more of these spots. I encourage you to consult with your physician about your own situation and the details of mole removal and recovery time. For information about moles in general, I consulted with Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, a dermatologist in San Diego and author of The Derm Blog, who shared the following:
"A mole, also known as a nevus, is a collection of pigmented cells (called melanocytes) in the skin. Moles are usually brown or red-brown but can be skin colored. A cancerous mole is called a melanoma.
Moles that are asymmetric, have irregular borders, have more than one color, or are larger than a pencil eraser are often biopsied to ensure that they are not skin cancer. Moles that appear normal can also be removed for cosmetic reasons. In most cases, the mole is removed then examined under a microscope to confirm that it is normal.
The removal of a mole is most often done by a biopsy. A physician will inject numbing medication, which can hurt a little, but only briefly. The mole can then be removed by cutting it off parallel with the skin surface, or by cutting it out beneath the skin and suturing the skin closed. The recovery time varies depending on both the removal method and the size of the mole; it generally ranges from 2-4 weeks."
For more information visit the American Academy of Dermatology's page on moles.
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