What is Nevus (Mole, Birthmark)?
A nevus is a dark spot on the body caused by clusters of overactive coloured skin cells. Sometimes there is also hair protruding from the nevus. It is more colloquially known as a mole or birthmark, and usually appears after birth anywhere on the body. Sometimes, these nevi may develop into skin cancer, so it is important to regularly monitor any changes to it. The risk of a nevus turning cancerous is related to its size, colour, location and shape. Your doctor would be best at determining if a nevus is vulnerable.
What are the signs and symptoms?
You can typically recognize a nevus from its much darker colour compared to the surrounding skin. Variations on nevi include the size, the presence or absence of hair, regular or uneven borders, or a texture that can feel either smooth or flaky. Make sure you and your family doctor regularly monitor your nevus, and report any changes to it such as bleeding, colour change, inflammation, itching, ulcerations, pain, or a change in size and texture.
The ABCs for the signs and symptoms of skin cancer (melanoma)
If your skin lesion or mole exhibits any of the following traits, you should go and see your doctor who would be able to correctly assess whether it is malignant or be able to send you to a specialist who can.
Asymmetry – the skin lesion is not round and symmetrical
Border – the border of the lesion is uneven
Colour – the lesion has multiple colours including brown, black and/or tan
Diameter – the size of the mole is larger than 6mm
Enlarging – the lesion is rapidly growing in size
What kind of tests can I undergo?
As a precaution, you and your doctor might measure the mole and/or take pictures of it frequently to check if it is increasing in size. A sudden size increase could indicate that the mole has turned into skin cancer, and it would need to be excised if it had. A skin biopsy, where a section of the mole is removed for testing, could also help to determine if there are any cancer cells present.
What are the treatment options?
Usually, no treatment is needed if the nevus is not changing and your family doctor does not consider it to be harmful. Careful monitoring and the use of strong sunscreen when outdoors are sufficient preventative measures. However, if your doctor thinks that it may pose a cancer risk, or if it is causing emotional issues because of its appearance, then surgery is an option. Lasers and dermabrasion are also alternative treatment options, but these may not remove the root of the mole and would also make it more difficult for a doctor to detect skin cancer.
What can I expect from surgery?
The surgical procedure to remove a smaller nevus is quite easy. The surgery itself would typically take approximately 15 minutes. Local freezing would be used, and about 20-30 minutes would be added to the surgery time to allow for the freezing to set in. However, because of the local freezing, the patient would be fit to drive home afterwards. Once the specimen has been excised, it will be sent to a lab to be tested for any malignancy. Stitches will be needed, and will typically be removed 5-14 days later, depending on the size and location of surgery. Redness is normal even after the stitches have been taken out, but after 4-6 months the scar should be hardly visible. There should be minimal to no pain after the local freezing has worn off, but Tylenol Extra Strength can be taken if there is.
What are the risks?
The risks of excising a nevus are very rare but can include infection, suture reactions, bleeding, bruising, and scarring. Please speak to your doctor about any medications you are taking and if you have had abnormal scarring (keloids or hypertrophic scars) in the past.
How much will it cost?
Unfortunately, the surgery to remove a benign nevus is not covered by OHIP. A consultation with Dr. Hong is recommended to find out the exact price for your procedure. Without a referral from your family doctor, an $95 consultation fee will be required, but it will be applied towards the cost of the surgery. There is no additional fee for follow up appointments such as the removal of sutures.
Nevus: Before Treatment
Nevus: After Treatment
The Step-by-Step Guide to Nevus (Mole, Birthmark) Removal
Nevus, also known as moles or birthmarks, are common skin growths that can appear anywhere on the body. While most moles are benign, some may be unsightly or at risk of becoming cancerous. If you’re considering nevus removal, it’s important to understand the process and what you can expect before, during, and after the treatment. In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of nevus removal, from consultation to recovery.
What Is the Nevus (Mole, Birthmark) Removal Process?
The process for removing a nevus, also known as a mole or birthmark, typically involves several steps. These may include:
Before the procedure, you will have a consultation with a doctor or dermatologist to discuss the size, location, and appearance of the nevus, as well as your medical history and any medications you are currently taking.
Depending on the size and location of the nevus, the doctor may use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the nevus.
The treatment of choice for nevus removal is surgical excision.
After the nevus is removed, the wound will be cleaned and kept dry. You will be given instructions on how to care for the wound at home.
You will need to return to the doctor for follow-up appointments to ensure that the wound is healing properly and to check for any signs of infection or complications.
It is important to monitor any new or changing moles, even after removal. It is advisable to check for any new or changing moles every three to six months.
Things to Consider Before Undergoing Nevus (Mole, Birthmark)
There are several things to consider before undergoing nevus (mole, birthmark) removal:
Type of Nevus:
The type of nevus you have will affect the removal process. Some nevi are benign, while others may be atypical or even malignant. It’s important to have your nevus examined by a doctor or dermatologist before deciding on removal, to ensure that it is not a dangerous type of nevus.
Location of the Nevus
The location of the nevus can also affect the removal process. Nevi on the face, for example, may require special care to minimize scarring.
Size and Shape of the Nevus
The size and shape of the nevus can also affect the removal process. Extremely large nevus may need to be removed in stages.
Your Medical History
Your medical history, including any previous surgeries or skin conditions, can also affect the removal process. It’s important to discuss your medical history with your doctor or dermatologist before deciding on nevus removal.
Risks and Potential Side Effects
Nevus removal can have risks and potential side effects, such as infection, bleeding, and scarring. It’s important to understand these risks and potential side effects before deciding to undergo the procedure.
Recovery time can vary depending on the size and location of the nevus, as well as the method of removal used. It’s important to understand the recovery time and any post-operative care that may be required before deciding to undergo the procedure.
Nevus removal can be costly, and the cost may not be covered by insurance. It’s important to consider the cost of the procedure and any potential out-of-pocket expenses before deciding to undergo the procedure.
Alternative options such as observation, or topical treatments should also be considered before deciding to remove the mole.
It’s important to have a thorough discussion with your doctor or dermatologist about the pros and cons of nevus removal and to weigh the potential benefits against the risks and potential side effects before deciding on the procedure.
The Best Surgeon for You
Dr. Colin Hong is an experienced plastic surgeon with over 35 years of experience specializing in Cosmetic, Plastic and Reconstructive surgeries. He is committed to delivering the highest quality of care possible, using state-of-the-art technology and techniques for CoolSculpting treatments. Dr. Hong also offers some of the most competitive rates for these services in Toronto, North York, and Markham.
Our team strives to provide a personalized experience that focuses on helping you achieve your desired results with minimal discomfort and downtime. By partnering with Dr. Colin Hong, you can be sure that you are receiving world-class treatment from one of the top plastic surgeons in Toronto.