Laser Mole Removal: Preparation, Treatment, and Aftercare (2024)

Laser Mole Removal: Preparation, Treatment, and Aftercare (1)

by Dr Wan Chee Kwang

March 15, 2023

Mole removal

Table of Contents

That black spot on the face might be small but its existence can be so obvious that it cannot be ignored every time you look into the mirror. Long considered a common type of skin growth, moles often appear as we age, and can change in appearance and size over time. So what happens when they become too obvious for us, and we want to remove them? Let’s take a look at what laser mole removal can do for those of us who want to get rid of these small, coloured spots on our skin.

How do moles develop?

Moles occur when cells called melanocytes in the skin grow in a cluster. Melanocytes usually spread out through the skin, and are responsible for making the pigment that gives our skin the colour it has. When they cluster, the skin might start looking darker in certain spots, giving rise to the black or brown spots that are commonly known as moles.

In Singapore, the constantly sunny weather can lead to an excess of UV exposure, which can result in moles on your skin. Lighter-skinned individuals tend to be more sensitive to UV damage, and this can also lead to an increase in occurrences of moles on the skin.

There is also variation based on ethnicity. Asians tend to have fewer moles compared to caucasians. The average person, regardless of where they’re from, has about 10-40 moles on their body by adulthood.

Moles are usually brown or black and can appear anywhere on your body. They tend to change slowly with time, becoming raised, changing colour or even developing hairs. Some moles might disappear, while others might stay the same throughout. In general, moles are harmless and do not need medical attention.

The benefits of laser treatment

Laser Mole Removal: Preparation, Treatment, and Aftercare (2)

When it comes to mole removal, treatment falls into two broad categories: surgical and non-surgical.

Surgical options include shave excision, where a raised mole is cut off at the surface of the skin, usually with a scalpel. However, this form of excision might leave some mole cells behind, creating a chance of recurrence. Some patients might receive some form of laser treatment after the shave excision to achieve maximum mole cell removal. Other surgical options include traditional surgical excision which removes the entire piece of skin containing the mole. This minimises the risk of recurrence but inevitably leaves a surgical scar in place.

If you’re wary of excessive scarring and the possibility of your mole recurring, you may be interested in learning more about non-surgical options. Laser mole removal is less invasive than surgical excision because the full thickness of the skin is not cut, making it more like having a graze rather than a wound from a cut. Laser removal, in general, offers more precision to the overseeing doctor.

Ablative lasers like the Erbium-YAG and CO2 lasers, allow the doctor to control the depth to which these lasers reach into the skin. Being able to accurately control the amount of tissue vaporised with each shot, lasers can be carefully directed on the mole cells to avoid damaging other layers of the skin. These lasers are rapidly absorbed by water in the skin cells and can thus precisely vaporise only the cells which form the mole. Other lasers such as pigment lasers can also be used for mole removal. Each type of mole removal achieves a different balance between recurrence, scarring and cost.

Another non-surgical option patients can consider is radiofrequency ablation, which dissects or coagulates a mole. Buried moles can be treated while sparing the skin surface by using insulated needles to deliver radiofrequency to only the deep part of the mole. Like laser removal, radiofrequency ablation allows for a high degree of control by the overseeing doctor.

What happens during the procedure

Laser removal of moles tends to be fuss-free and is usually completed within 1 to 2 visits.

Before the procedure, a consultation with a doctor is required to assess the mole and discuss the method of mole removal. This consultation is important as doctors need to assess if the mole can be removed if it is potentially harmful, and how best to remove it.

After that, the patient is taken to the treatment room. There, the mole and the surrounding area are cleansed. A strong numbing cream will be applied for 20-30 minutes before the start of the treatment. Finally, the laser of choice is directed at the mole to remove it. The laser will gently remove the skin cells of the mole, uncovering the healthy skin beneath. The laser treatment itself is very tolerable, and the patient tends to feel minimal discomfort during the treatment itself.

Immediately after the treatment, the mole will no longer be visible, and a raw area will appear where the mole used to be.

What to do after the procedure

After the procedure, there will be a small wound that will require some time to heal. Depending on the depth and size of the mole, the healing process might take between a few days to a few weeks. Some mild scabbing will form where the treatment took place, and this will fall off after a few days to expose healthy new skin. The wound area tends to heal like a graze, so it takes about 2 weeks to fully smoothen out.

Wash the area gently and pat it dry. If prescribed, use the antiseptic wash and antibiotic ointment to keep the wound clean, and make sure the area is covered with a hydrocolloid dressing to prevent the wound from drying out. Continue this until the area is completely healed.

Keep the area clean, moisturised and protected from sun exposure. Also consider putting off heavy exercise, straining or lifting of any kind for a few days. The same goes for swimming, using saunas, hot tubs or other similar devices. Finally, try to avoid alcohol intake during this recovery period. In some cases, keloid scarring can occur, but these can be dealt with through a variety of different treatments.

If you’d like to quicken the healing process and minimise scarring after the removal of a large mole, you can ask your doctor to use growth factors. These are biologically active molecules that boost the wound environment. They can be costly and require several visits to the clinic to be administered, though. To know more about this option, you can read this post.

Why you should consult a specialist for mole removal

It might be tempting to just go to a beauty salon to get your mole removed at a cheaper price. However, the cheaper way might not always be the safest or smartest way. A beautician, for instance, might wrongly administer cryotherapy and end up making your mole worse and damaging your skin.

While doctors need to undergo long periods of medical training and education before they can even remove their first mole, beauticians or therapists do not need to do so. They might attempt to remove the mole, but they are not able to assess the mole for any sign of skin cancer.

Laser Mole Removal: Preparation, Treatment, and Aftercare (3)

On the other hand, doctors are trained to assess moles for any potential harm. They usually use a reference called the ABCDE of moles, looking for:

  • Asymmetry: Checking to see if the mole looks irregular or non-symmetrical in shape.
  • Border: Looking to see whether the mole has well-defined borders, or if it bleeds.
  • Colour: Checking to see if the mole has just one colour, or whether it varies in shades.
  • Diameter: Looking to see if the mole is over 6mm in diameter.
  • Evolution: Finding out if the mole is growing quickly or not.

Doctors will want patients to get their moles checked if they have increased in size, changed in colour or are bleeding.

Therapists do not have actual qualifications to use mole removal lasers. Each of these lasers can only be used by registered medical personnel, meaning that whatever laser device they are using is either illegal, or not meant for mole removal. This makes mole removal at a beauty salon potentially unsafe.

While claims of complete removal are rife in the beauty salon industry, it is important to note that these salons are unregulated. Unlike aesthetic clinics, which are strictly regulated, beauty salons do not need to follow rules on treatments, advertising or efficacy claims. This means that salons can claim the efficacy of mole removal, but leave their customers with little recourse if the mole removal service is ineffective or produces unwanted scarring.

Finally, using DIY methods of mole removal might seem cheaper than seeing a proper doctor. However, these methods can also leave patients with half-removed moles, scarring that is more significant than the mole, or even both.

In 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to three companies, including the globally popular Amazon.com, for selling unapproved mole removal products. It said these products can cause injuries and scarring.

Looking for advice and treatment options for mole removal?

When it comes to removing moles, seeking an aesthetic doctor for professional advice is highly recommended. Patients who wish to undergo mole removal treatments should receive a detailed examination by a qualified doctor, who will then arrive at a suitable treatment option based on the patient’s mole type, and budget.

If you are tired of seeing a mole on your face in the mirror every morning, 1Aesthetic Medical & Surgery can provide you with the necessary diagnosis and treatment to alleviate the condition. Call us at 66125173, or WhatsApp us at 84899962.

References

  1. Healthhub. Skin cancer: know your spots from Healthhub.sg: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1166/know-your-spots
  1. Lucy Mansfield (2020) Botched mole removal: ‘They looked worse–they kept growing back’ from Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/11/botched-mole-removal-they-looked-worse-they-kept-growing-back
  1. US Food and Drug Administration (2022) FDA issues warning letters to three companies for selling unapproved new drugs for mole and skin tag removal from FDA.gov: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-issues-warning-letters-three-companies-selling-unapproved-new-drugs-mole-and-skin-tag-removal

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