moles

Don’t make a mountain…

...of a mole. Learn the facts on moles and their removal.  

Moles are “simple clusters of skin cells that start in our childhood and increase in number as we age,” says
Dr. Kevin Sliwowicz, BSc, MD, CCFP(EM), director of the Toronto Centre for Advanced Skin Repair. They can be worrisome and, in other cases, simply something you don’t like on yourself. Here are the facts on moles so you can determine if yours is simply a cosmetic imperfection or something more sinister.

FACTS 

  • Moles change gradually over the years, developing hairs and becoming darker in colour.
  • Both pregnancy and  sun exposure accelerate growth.
  • Ethnicity and heredity explain the presence of moles.

HOW DO I KNOW IF A MOLE IS HARMLESSOR CANCEROUS?

Doctors follow the ABCDE rule to examine skin lesions.

  •    A: Asymmetry
  •    B: Border
  •    C: Colour
  •    D: Diameter
  •    E: Evolving

Moles that are round, symmetrical and less than six millimetres in size, with sharp borders and one shade of colour are not
a concern.

REMOVAL

If you want to get a benign mole removed it’s a cosmetic procedure, so surgical removal is not covered by OHIP or other provincial health care plans. 

Larger moles are removed via excision because they have deeper roots in the skin structures. Others can be removed by shave excision and leave the skin surface intact.

DOWNTIME  

Excisions done with closure require suture removal after five to seven days. There will be swelling and redness for three to four days after the procedure. Lesions removed with shave excision heal in about  seven to 10 days and remain red for anywhere from two to eight weeks, depending on the patient’s healing power. 

SIDE EFFECTS

To avoid infection, patients must keep their wound covered and change the dressing once a day. They must also avoid exercise or swimming until the excision heals. Although scarring is unavoidable, incisions are kept tight and small. Scar treatment procedures
are available for those who don’t like the scar left behind.

COST

Price varies depending on the size, body area, depth and complexity of the skin lesion.