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How is a nevus (mole) treated?

The average individual has approximately twenty moles, or "nevi" in their lifetime. Usually they start tan or brown and flat in childhood (rarely, congenital nevi are present near the time of birth and may be larger and darker than ordinary nevi), become raised in early adulthood and then lose their color. The elderly population tends to have less numbers of nevi, so there is evidence that some moles fade away.

Unusual moles might be a sign of malignant transformation. Some atypical moles may say atypical but others can develop into melanoma. Not all melanoma develop from nevi.

Cosmetic removal of nevi can be done by shaving off flush with the surrounding skin but this may lead to repigmentation of the new scar and create an unusual pigmented pattern that can be quite worrisome in appearance. A full excision can be done surgically around and underneath the mole but this leaves a surgical scar that might be a fine line. However, when deciding to have a mole that appears benign, removed for cosmetic reasons, one has to understand there is a risk of developing a spread, raised, hyper or hypo (more or less) pigmented and/or painful scar.

There are some ongoing studies investigating the effectiveness of lasers to treat moles but there currently is controversy that destroying a mole without submitting it to the laboratory might allow for a missed diagnosis of an atypical nevus or even a melanoma. Moles with asymmetry, uneven borders, different colors, recent onset, history of bleeding or change in texture or size, should be carefully addressed and are often biopsied to rule out melanoma.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.