Facial Mole Removal

What are the options and techniques for removing moles on the face?

Moles are common, and an adult will have around 30 moles on average. While most of these moles will be harmless and not caused by skin cancer, in certain cases a mole will need to be removed for a variety of different reasons.

Non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer is a common type of skin cancer that arises in the upper layers of the skin. Each year in the UK, more than 100,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed. This type of skin cancer is more common in men than women and is more prevalent in the elderly. Unlike melanoma, which is more serious and can spread to other parts of the body, non-melanoma skin cancer tends to grow locally and can cause significant destruction of local tissue if left untreated. There are two types of non-melanoma skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This type of skin cancer arises in parts of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun. As a result, basal cell carcinoma, often called a rodent ulcer, commonly occurs on the face and can present as a lump or area of skin discolouration typically on the temple, forehead cheeks and nose.

What causes skin cancer on the face?

The main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer is exposure of the skin to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The main source of UV radiation is the sun, but it can also come from artificial tanning sunbeds or sun lamps. Other causes of skin cancer of the face include pale skin, a large number of freckles, a previous diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer, or either medication or a condition that suppresses your immune system.

Reasons to consider removal of facial moles

If a mole on your face has changed recently or has suspicious features, then your GP will arrange referral to a plastic surgeon or dermatologist who has a special interest in skin cancer. This service is available in the NHS, although waiting times to be seen in a clinic can be many weeks, or privately if you have medical insurance or want to pay for treatment. Facial mole removal is advised if you have noticed a mole that:
  • Has increased in size
  • Has changed in colour
  • Is greater than 7mm in size
  • Has an irregular shape
  • Has an irregular colour
  • Is inflamed or oozing
Although the majority of moles on the face that present with these clinical signs will not be cancerous, a small proportion will contain malignant cells and may require further treatment following initial facial mole removal. Black or dark brown moles may be a sign of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer that can result in patient mortality. If you have noticed any of the above features, you should consider seeking medical advice to decide whether your facial mole should be removed or not.

Cosmetic facial mole removal

Facial moles may also be removed for cosmetic reasons if they are in a prominent place such as the face or nose, or if they are in a position where they are prone to bleeding or catching on clothing. Some moles may be large, dark or hairy and as a result mole removal is desirable. In all of these cases, cosmetic mole removal can be arranged privately as this service is not available as an NHS patient. When choosing a private skin clinic, it is important to select a company that employs specialist skin cancer nurses and works with consultant skin cancer specialists who are experts in providing the best cosmetic outcome from any surgery on the face.

Diagnosing the mole(s) on your face

If you are worried about a mole or other skin lesion on your face, but not sure whether you require private mole removal, one option is to book an appointment where your facial mole or skin lesion can be thoroughly examined by a specialist skin cancer nurse and images can be taken for telemedicine reporting by consultant skin cancer specialists. You can then be advised whether you require facial mole removal or not.

How will my facial mole be assessed?

Your facial mole should be assessed by a skin cancer specialist who can look for any suspicious features, including an irregular colour or shape, if it is inflamed or oozing, or if it is more than 7mm in size. In addition, use of a special camera called a dermoscope can look into the top layer of the skin of the face to give further information about whether the facial mole should be removed or not. A number of specialist skin cancer clinics now use telemedicine to transfer the digital and dermoscopic images to an online system where experienced consultant skin cancer specialists can report the images and advise whether a facial mole should be removed or not.

Options for facial mole removal or treatment

Although the majority of facial moles that require treatment will be completely removed for pathological assessment, a number of techniques are available and are summarised as follows:

Complete facial mole excision surgery

This method is usually used for facial moles that have suspicious features or those that are not suitable for shave excision. Most facial mole removal can be carried out under local anaesthesia unless the mole on your face is very large. While many mole removal procedures in the NHS are performed by junior surgeons, in the private sector facial mole removal surgery is performed by consultant skin cancer specialists, highly trained in cosmetic mole removal, to provide the best scar and cosmetic outcome. This could not be more important than when removing moles on the face. Following facial mole removal, the biopsy results will usually be available within two weeks. If any malignancy is found on laboratory analysis, your consultant will advise you if any further facial surgery or treatment may be required.

Shave removal of a facial mole

Some non-cancerous or harmless facial moles that protrude from the surface of the skin of the face can be shaved under local anaesthesia for cosmetic reasons, to leave a flat wound that heals without any sutures. Shave removal of a facial mole only takes a few minutes and the wound will usually heal within 10 days to leave a small pink mark for around 4 weeks. This will continue to heal during the next few months to leave a small scar.

Laser removal of a facial mole

Laser removal is usually recommended for non-cancerous or harmless facial moles that are flatter and lighter in colour and are being removed for cosmetic reasons. While this type of removal usually provides an excellent cosmetic result with minimal scarring, there is a small chance of the facial mole returning at the same site (mole recurrence). Laser treatment uses specific wavelengths of light that destroy the dark pigment in the skin, and the laser energy then cauterizes the skin to leave a small wound that heals very quickly. Although two or three treatments may be required to achieve a good cosmetic outcome, this type of removal may be an ideal option for treating multiple facial moles, or facial moles that are in a difficult position for surgical removal.

Cryotherapy or freezing of a facial mole

Cryotherapy uses liquid Nitrogen to freeze facial moles or skin lesions so that they then drop off without any surgery. This type of treatment is usually used on warts and skin tags, but it can also be used for larger, flatter moles such as seborrhoeic keratosis that can often be multiple. This technique may leave a small blister on the skin that will heal quickly.

Frequently asked questions

Facial mole removal by SkinHealth UK

At SkinHealth UK we only work with consultant skin cancer specialists, who are plastic surgeons and highly experienced in mole removal to give the best cosmetic outcome. This is particularly important for surgery to the face. Our consultants operate from a network of clinics/hospitals in England & Scotland, so we can book you in to a clinic close to your home or work address. SkinHealth UK currently provides this service for insured and self-funding patients, and at the initial consultation you will be advised of the various treatment options and costs. Our SkinHealth UK consultant surgeons are all skin cancer specialists who can provide you with the best advice to manage the whole process of having a facial mole removed.   Your initial consultation fee with SkinHealth UK will cover an extended One Stop ‘see & treat’ appointment, with adequate time to allow private facial mole removal if required. Additional fees will also be charged by the surgeon and hospital for any treatment provided, including facial mole removal and laboratory analysis, and prices may vary depending on the surgeon and hospital. If you are worried about a facial mole or other skin lesion, but not sure whether you require private facial mole removal, we can arrange a SkinCheck appointment where your facial mole or skin lesion can be thoroughly examined by one of our specialist skin cancer nurses and images taken for telemedicine reporting. Our consultant reporting team can then advise you whether the facial mole requires removal or not. Call SkinHealth UK on 0800 876 6662, to book your facial mole removal appointment or a SkinCheck appointment now.

If you are concerned that you have Skin Cancer, you should speak to a medical professional as soon as possible.

With SkinHealth UK, you can book an appointment with a specialist nurse at a clinic near you, and have your results within 5 days of your appointment.

To book your appointment, call us on 0800 876 6662 or request a call