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Mole removal

Surgery to remove unsightly or troublesome moles

A mole is a type of skin lesion that is usually completely harmless. A skin lesion is an area of your skin that looks abnormal or different from the surrounding area. There are many kinds of skin lesions and many different conditions that cause them.

Moles are made of clusters of pigment-forming cells called melanocytes. These cells are scattered throughout our skin, generating a substance called melanin, which causes pigmentation of the skin, hair and eyes. When melanocytes group together, they become moles.

Moles are very common and can appear at any stage in your life - from your childhood, to your adolescence, to your adulthood. They vary in size and shape, and can appear across any area of your body, including over hair follicles (which is why some moles have hair growing from them).

Why do people have moles removed?

Many people have their moles removed because they do not like the way they look, while others have them removed to ensure they are non-cancerous. Moles and other skin lesions are usually treated by dermatologists, who are doctors that specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of skin conditions. But they can also be treated and removed by other specialists, including plastic surgeons and general surgeons. There are over 2,000 skin disorders recognised by The British Association of Dermatologists, and consultant dermatologists, plastic surgeons and general surgeons are generally the most common providers of treatment for these.

At Circle Health Group, we have a large network of consultant who can perform mole removal surgery and provide expert tailored treatment for skin lesions. To find out more, book an appointment online or call us on 0141 300 5009.

The cost of private mole removal surgery depends on various factors, including your reasons for having the mole removal, and also which hospital and consultant you choose.

We offer fixed-price packages that include the cost of your treatment and all appropriate aftercare appointments. Any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over a period of your choice.

If you have private health insurance, mole removal surgery may be covered by your provider, though cosmetic procedures are not covered by most policies. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

You can usually see a consultant for your initial appointment within 48 hours of booking with us.

At your first appointment, your consultant will ask for a detailed medical history from you before carefully examining your skin lesion. They will also ask about existing medical conditions you suffer from and how these affect your daily life. If your consultant decides that you need skin lesion removal surgery to treat your mole, or to determine whether it is cancerous, they will share more information about the process of this and book the treatment for you.

Deciding to have your mole removed

It is important to note that if your mole is not cancerous you do not have to have it removed. This decision is entirely up to you. If you do want to continue with mole removal surgery, we can arrange it for you.

Mole removal is generally performed for cosmetic reasons, though some people also find their mole catches on things (for example items of clothing when they are trying to get dressed). This can become increasingly frustrating and uncomfortable, sometimes causing your mole to bleed. You might also accidentally shave over your mole if you shave that area, which can cause further discomfort. If this is the case, your specialist might recommend having mole removal surgery.

Once your mole has been analysed, your consultant and our multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals will ensure you understand the next steps in your journey and how to prepare for surgery. Please feel free to take this time to ask them any questions about your mole and the process for removing it. They will be able to ease any concerns you might have, ensuring you remain informed throughout your journey with us.

Moles come in all shapes and sizes, as mentioned above, but there are signs you can look out for to determine the type of mole you have. You should always have your mole checked by a doctor to confirm this.

Most harmless moles are round or oval-shaped with a smooth edge. They can be flat or slightly raised and might feel smooth or rough. They can have hairs growing from them and are typically darker on brown and black skin.

It is okay for new moles to appear as you get older and others to fade - but, as previously mentioned, it is always a good idea to have your moles checked by a doctor (especially when you first notice them) to understand the type of mole they are.

Some moles can be a sign of a type of skin cancer called melanoma. The most common symptom of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole, or the changing appearance of a mole you currently have. The most affected areas are the back in men and legs in women. If your mole has more than two colours (for example, if it is brown and black) or has changed colour or shape, or feels itchy and bleeds, see your doctor to determine the type of mole it is.

Moles are rarely a sign of anything sinister, and most of the time you can leave the mole on your skin if its appearance doesn't bother you.

There is not a huge amount you can do to prepare for mole removal surgery, because it is typically a minimally invasive procedure. We always recommend maintaining general good levels of health and fitness before any surgery to ensure you recovery from your operation as quickly as possible, and risks and complications are as minimal as possible (these factors are impacted by your general health).

Your consultant will ensure you feel prepared for surgery and answer any questions you might about this stage in your journey to ensure you feel informed. They can also offer advice on how to stay fit and healthy through diet and exercise during the runup to the procedure.

Your consultant will begin by injecting some local anaesthetic into the area surrounding your mole (meaning you will be awake during the procedure, but the area will be numbed, so you won't feel any pain).

The surgeon will clean the area, then carefully remove the mole using a specialist scalpel or forceps, perhaps using a microscope to make sure they are as precise as possible.

After the mole has been removed, your consultant might need to close the area with dissolvable stitches (this depends on the shape and size of your mole). Next, they will cover the wound with dressing.

The procedure typically takes up to 15 minutes from start to finish, but this depends on the type of mole you have. 

We then typically send all moles that have been removed to the pathology lab to rule out cancer, just to be safe.

There is not a significant recovery period for mole removal surgery, because it is a minimally invasive, day-case surgery, meaning you can return home on the same day.

You might be asked to refrain from exercise for a while afterwards to avoid the wound reopening. Your consultant will let you know all about this.

The overall healing period depends on the type of mole you had and its size, but it can take up to three weeks for the wound to heal. Your consultant might provide you with special creams or gels to speed up your recovery as much as possible. They will also share any details about your recovery that are specific to your circumstances (for example, how and when to remove your dressing), ensuring you feel as informed about your recovery as possible.

It is important to remember that complications from surgery are rare and that there are risks attached to any surgery, not just mole removal.

Potential complications of mole removal include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Nerve damage
  • The mole can recur

We spoke with consultant vascular and general surgeon Mr Simon Payne to answer your most asked questions about mole removal surgery.

What are the most common reasons for mole removal?

People may seek specialist services regarding their moles for one of two reasons:

They may find their mole(s) unsightly or a nuisance (for example, if it catches on clothing, or they 'fiddle' with it). People might also be concerned that a mole is cancerous.

How do I know if I need to get my mole checked?

If there is concern that a mole may be dangerous then a medical opinion should be sought. These are the signs you should look out for if you have mole(s):

  • Moles that change shape or are uneven or asymmetrical
  • Moles that change colour, become darker, or have more than two colours
  • Moles that become itchy, start crusting, flaking, or bleeding
  • Moles that enlarge or become raised

Any moles that show any of the signs mentioned above should be discussed with a specialist. Happily, though, most moles are perfectly benign and only cause a cosmetic concern or a minor nuisance.

What should I expect when I come for a consultation with my dermatologist?

Suspicious moles should be seen by a dermatologist who can decide whether a mole needs to be removed. Surgeons with an interest in skin surgery will give you the best results when removing moles for cosmetic reasons. Your mole will always be checked in the pathology lab to ensure it is noncancerous.

What happens during mole removal surgery?

Moles may be removed under local anaesthetic, usually on the same visit as your consultation.

The area is numbed by injecting local anaesthetic and the mole is removed surgically with specialist tools, often under magnification to enable as precise a removal as possible.

The wound is closed with fine stitches - often a deep layer is placed as well as one just under the skin. Many surgeons place their stitches underneath the skin, where the stitches cannot be seen. Or they might use dissolving stitches to avoid the need for a repeat visit for stitch removal.

All moles (even if removed solely for cosmetic reasons) are sent to a pathology laboratory to be checked. This gives you the reassurance that no further treatment is needed.

How soon will I recover from treatment?

After removing your mole, your consultant will place a cover over your wound (this is usually shower-proof). They might also apply a surgical tape some antibiotic cream to your wound. Your surgeon will give you wound care instructions specific to your circumstances, but the main requirement is to keep it clean and protected for the first week or so.

Later, after your wound has lost any scabs, you should use silicone tape or gel to minimise the chances of scarring. These tapes or gels can be applied over months.

Are there potential risks and complications?

Complications from mole removal are very uncommon. It is possible for your wound to become infected - please contact your surgeon to get antibiotics if you think this is the case for you. A little bleeding from mole removal is common, though, and your wound dressings with an absorbent pad will absorb a small amount of blood. Almost all patients who undergo mole removal for cosmetic reasons are pleased with their outcome and glad that they had it the surgery.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more about mole removal surgery, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in January 2023. Next review due January 2026.

  1. Removing your mole (excision biopsy), Cancer Research UK
  2. Moles, NHS
  3. How to check your moles, NHS

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