Many people want to remove moles, but they may be hesitant because they worry that the procedure could leave a scar. Removing moles without scarring will depend on what kind of mole you have.
If you have non-cancerous moles, most mole removal procedures like laser removal will leave little to no scars. The biggest factor is how well you heal. Silicone gel and pressure make the biggest difference in the scar’s final appearance, according to science. This makes silicone scar sheets the only product you should use.
Find Out What Kind of Mole You Have
You will likely get a full body check-up before a doctor performs mole removal. Moles can be cancerous or non-cancerous, affecting what kind of mole removal you may get. Most non-cancerous mole removal procedures will leave minimal to no scars. It may depend on how large the mole is, but the procedures often leave little to no scar.
Typically, a doctor may have to surgically remove (sometimes referred to as an excision) a mole if it is cancerous to remove all cancer cells. Surgically removing a mole in this way almost always leads to a scar.
For most excisions, a surgeon may use special scissors and a scalpel to remove a bit of your skin and all of the mole. The surgeon might have to use stitches if the mole grew deep into the skin.
However, whether the scar will fade or stay will depend on the person. For instance, some people’s scars may fade to a minimal to nonexistent scar, while others may have a noticeable scar.
The location of the mole on the body is also significant. You will heal much better in places where the skin is thin, such as fingers or eyelids, than places where the skin is thick.
Never excise a mole from your scalp or anywhere you want to have hair. Hair follicle loss due to trauma is a prevalent side effect of mole excision.
How to Remove Moles Without Scarring
People (depending on their skin, age, size of the mole, etc.) with non-cancerous moles can often opt for the following procedures. A doctor may suggest that you can use one of these methods if you have a cancerous mole, but it will greatly depend on your in-person evaluation.
Laser Mole Removal
Laser mole removal is a non-invasive procedure that removes moles. Lasers do not burn or cut the skin, so there is a lower risk of infection. It can be a bit gentler for more tender areas like your ears, near your eyes, etc.
Another bonus is that a laser mole removal procedure is an excellent option for you if your mole is on an obvious area like your face or neck. It usually does not require bandages or stitches, so it will not be very obvious to people.
In most cases, a surgeon will apply local anesthesia to the mole. They will then point a laser ray to the mole. The cells will absorb the laser, so the mole fumes away from the skin and destroys the mole tissue, leaving the skin intact.
Most people will not get a scar after this procedure, especially if they follow proper after-care instructions. However, removing a large mole may leave a slight scar.
There is also a chance that your mole could grow again.
A bonus of laser removal treatment is that you can remove several moles at once. However, you may need to get a few sessions to remove your moles entirely.
Freezing is another popular option for people who have non-cancerous moles. Most non-cancerous moles are only on the skin’s surface, so a surgeon can easily freeze them off.
A doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the moles. To perform the procedure, a doctor will spray or swab a tiny amount of liquid nitrogen onto the mole. You may feel a slight burning or stinging sensation for several minutes.
Once the liquid nitrogen touches your skin, a blister will form. A scab will develop over the blister, and it will naturally fall off after 2-4 weeks. You mustn’t remove the scab yourself.
The procedure seldom leaves a scar. If you follow the after-care instructions and let the scab fall off by itself, you should be fine.
Plus, it often does not require local anesthesia because the pain only lasts for a few minutes. However, your skin will likely feel tender for several days after the treatment.
Shaving off a mole is very similar to an excision. The main difference is that a surgeon will use a scalpel to shave off mole layers until it is gone. It is typically done for superficial, non-cancerous moles.
Your surgeon will likely apply a local anesthetic to numb the targeted area, so you will not feel anything. They will then remove the mole as needed. Most patients will not require stitches since it is less invasive than an excision.
However, it is essential to note that shaving a mole often leaves a very minimal scar, especially for superficial moles. It often starts as a small pink patch, but it usually fades after a month.
Even if the surgery promises to give you little to no scars, it would be best to make sure you heal as well as you can. This can decrease your chances of having a permanent scar. You may initially have a pink patch after certain procedures (like shaving off your mole). The scar may go away or lessen after four weeks.
Younger people’s scars often heal faster than older people’s scars. That is likely because younger people’s skin is more elastic, and the skin cell turnover rate is faster. However, older people have better-looking scars because of their decreased collagen production. Collagen is the main component of scar tissue.
Ideally, you should follow any after-care instructions that your doctor gives you. It will help potentially eliminate a scar, or at least make it very unnoticeable.
Some other ways you could minimize or help prevent a scar are:
- Avoid direct sunlight to avoid discoloration (put sunscreen with SPF 30 on the scar and, if possible, wear clothing that will cover the scar)
- Keep the incision area clean (dirty incisions can lead to infections, further delaying the healing time)
- Avoid stretching the scar (stretching can make it bigger and slows down the healing process)
- Gently massage the scar (when there are no scabs and sutures) in circular motions
- Keep the incision and scar area moist (depending on your doctor’s orders, you can use a moisturizing ointment like petroleum jelly.)
The best way to reduce scarring is silicone scar gel (Puri et al., 2009) and pressure on the scar itself (Ai et al., 2017). These are the main two ways to improve the scar’s final appearance according to science.
If you can, buy silicone scar sheets (not gel). The sheets not only apply silicone, but the sheets also apply gentle pressure on the scar. Don’t waste money on scar serums like Mederma or bio-oil.
Can I Remove a Mole By Myself?
It is never a good idea to remove moles by yourself. Besides harming yourself, it would most likely wind up in a very noticeable scar since we lack the equipment and knowledge that a doctor will have.
Another huge reason you should never remove moles at home is that it could be cancerous. If you remove the mole, a doctor will not be able to test it in the future. More importantly, it is improbable to get all of the cancerous mole tissue if the mole is cancerous. The mole will likely grow again, and it will delay how quickly you get treatment since it has to regrow.
It is essential to be aware of whether your mole changes or if you get new moles. Awareness of a potentially cancerous mole could help lead to the early diagnosis of conditions like melanoma (Walter et al., 2010).