What are the options and techniques for removing moles on the
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
- 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
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
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
1. How common is skin cancer?
2. What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
3. Does skin cancer only affect older people?
4. What facial moles should I have checked?
5. How can I get referred for facial mole removal?
6. How will my facial mole be checked?
7. How will my facial mole be removed?
8. When do I get my biopsy results?
9. What happens if my facial mole turns out to be a type of skin cancer?
10. Can I remove my facial mole at home?
11. Can my facial mole come back after treatment?
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
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.