Expert Doctor

A Guide to Mole Removal Surgery

Anna Krishtul, MD

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Mole Removal Surgery

Mole removal surgery is used to remove a mole on the skin in order to gain a more aesthetically pleasing look. Since moles come in different shapes and colors, it is imperative to have each mole evaluated by a dermatologist to ensure it is benign before having it removed. Mole removal surgery can be achieved using either shave removal or elliptical excision around the mole. While the shave removal technique leaves a shallow round or oval scar, an elliptical excision require sutures and leaves a line-shaped scar. The mole removal technique will be determined by the size and location of the mole.

Am I a Good Candidate for Mole Removal Surgery?

A GOOD CANDIDATE for mole removal surgery includes:

  • A patient with a benign mole on any portion of the body that they would like removed
  • Patients with an elevated or flat mole
  • Any patient with a mole on an area of the body where scarring will not be a problem such as the arms or legs

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for mole removal surgery:

  • A patient who is concerned with having a scar
  • Patients who have a tendency to develop keloid scars
  • A patient with a mole on their back or upper shoulder since this area tends to scar easily
  • Patients with thin skin and those who are very thin with minimal skin laxity

How is Mole Removal Surgery Performed?

Mole removal surgery is performed in the doctor’s office and only takes a few minutes. Mole removal surgery is performed under local anesthesia and the doctor will numb the area before removing the mole.

Raised moles have a thick base so the doctor will need to shave it along the skin. With the shave method, the doctor will simply cut the mole away from the skin, at the base, using a scalpel. A flat mole is typically removed by creating an elliptical or punch incision around it. The extent of the incision depends on how large the mole is. The doctor will use a punch device, which works like a cookie cutter, to make an incision around the mole. Once removed, the area will be sutured closed.

Alternative Treatments

Laser removal can be used on flat moles or moles that don’t protrude above the surface. Laser treatments consist of intense bursts of light radiation which break down the mole cells in the skin. Laser treatments are useful for hard to reach areas, such as the face or ears, but they typically require two or three treatments to completely remove the mole.

A mole that has grown into the deeper layers of skin may respond well to freezing techniques. Freezing the mole off using liquid nitrogen is a simple procedure but will leave a small blister on the skin. Mole freezing may also take several sessions to remove the mole.

What is the Cost of Mole Removal Surgery?

The cost of either mole removal surgery is between $100 to $500 per mole based on the size, shape and location of the mole. Removing a mole on the face will be more complex and will take more time than a mole on the arm. Deeper moles may require more cutting and possibly more than one treatment to remove the entire mole. Therefore, these moles will cost more. A mole that looks suspicious of melanoma may need to be sent away for a biopsy so additional fees will be applied for lab processing.

Recovery and Downtime

There is little to no DOWNTIME after mole removal surgery. The area may be tender and red but the patient can return to normal activities. However, patients should avoid activities that can potentially unravel or tear the stitches. If mole removal is performed on the upper shoulder, there will be some lifting restrictions during the RECOVERY period. An antibiotic cream may need to be applied to the wound to keep it moist during the first week of healing. Otherwise, the doctor may recommend keeping the area clean and dry. Patients may shower the day after the procedure but bathing, soaking in hot tubs and swimming are not advised due to the increased risk of bacteria causing infections.

Any stitches will be removed within one to two weeks. Facial stitches are typically removed around 7 days post-op. Stitches in the neck will remain for 10 to 12 days and any stitches in the limbs or extremities may stay for up to 14 days. If liquid sutures are used, they will dissolve on their own after a few days.


The results after mole removal surgery can take some time since the wound will need between one and two weeks to heal. Following that, the scar can take between 12 to 18 months to settle. A linear scar may be longer or bigger than the original mole but, over time, it will shrink and fade to a lighter tone. Some patients choose to have laser scar removal once the scar has completely healed. Mole removal is permanent but there is a chance of recurrence and this is especially true with the shave method. When this happens, a patient will usually see a small elevation that develops over time or some pigmentation in the area. Multiple treatments may be recommended if there are signs of recurrence.

Limitations of Mole Removal Surgery

The limitations involved with mole removal surgery include:

  • The size of the mole (regarding enough skin to pull together after removal)
  • The need for a skin graft if there isn’t enough skin
  • The size of the scar (regarding the size of the mole)

Risks of Mole Removal Surgery

The risks associated with mole removal surgery include:

  • Adverse reaction to the local anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Wound healing issues
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Recurrence

Moles need to be examined before Removal

Mole removal surgery can remove flat or raised moles from just about any area of the body. However, moles have the potential to turn into skin cancer and malignant moles may develop on their own. Therefore, it is important to have moles examined before having them removed. Furthermore, it is always best to have a mole removed by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon for the safest and best results.

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Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA

Based on an exclusive interview provided by Dr. Anna Krishtul in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.