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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is it safe to get a mole removed?

    Related Topic
    I have a rather large dark mole on one of my cheeks and have always wanted it removed. Is the procedure safe? What should I expect afterward?
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  • 1


    Dr Jillian Tomlinson

    Hand Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Dr Jill Tomlinson is a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon. After graduating dux in her year at University High School, Jill completed medical … View Profile

    Having a mole excised is a safe procedure that can be done under local anaesthetic, with or without sedation, or under general anaesthesia.

    To minimise scarring from the procedure it is wise to see a surgeon or practitioner who is experienced in removing facial lesions, such as a plastic surgeon. The exact details of the surgery depend on details like where the mole is on your cheek, whether it has changed recently, what size it is and what type of mole it is. These things can alter the surgeon's decision-making on where to place the scar, whether you should have a biopsy first, whether the mole can be removed in a single surgery, and what type of stitches you will have.

    All surgery produces a scar, but the aim is to leave you with a scar that is not noticeable, or one which is barely visible. Patients generally find that a healed scar is much less noticeable than a large dark mole.

    The exact post operative course varies between surgeons, but usually the surgery is done as day case surgery and you will go home with a dressing on the area. The mole will be sent for examination at a pathology laboratory to confirm that it is benign. Any external stitches are usually removed 5 days after the surgery. You will then be advised on scar management techniques that may include massage, sun protection, taping and application of silicone sheeting or gels. The scar is usually pink in the first 3 months and will start to fade to white after that.

    If you have a tendency towards hypertrophic or keloid scarring additional scar management techniques may be advised. Infection is not a common complication of simple skin surgery, but it can occur. If your pathology results show an unexpected cancerous result (which is rare) then further surgery may be required to remove an additional safety zone around the area.

    I hope this helps! If you would like to read more about mole, skin tag and lump removal in my practice please visit this page on my website

    Good luck, JT.

  • Mr Stephen Salerno

    Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery Hand Surgery Skin cancer and melanoma surgery Breast Surgery View Profile

    Hello and thank you for your question.

    It is relatively safe to remove a mole formt he cheek.  I would have the lesion examined by a plastic surgeon or dermatologist to ensure that is is not anything malignant such as a melanoma and then discuss the excision with your surgeon.  You are likely to have a small scar over the area where the excision occurs and I essentially tell my patients that they will be trading a mole for  scar.  The scar on the face normally heels well and settles down in a bout 3-6months and is usually thin and fades in colour by that time.  Occassionally it takes longer to settle.  Scar minimisation in the form of massage and scar minimsation creams are discussed in post operative visits.

    Stephen Salerno

  • Dr. John Mahony

    Cosmetic Physician

    Dr John Mahony studied Medicine at Sydney University 1980-1984 graduating early 1985. Internship and residency years followed in the Illawarra, covering general medical and surgical … View Profile

    Coupla  points

    If it is a raised “mole” that you have had for a long time, unchanged, then it may be a benign melanocytic nevus best managed by shave biopsy and hyfrecation to base. This will give you a tissue diagnosis and will leave the mole site with a flat white round mark that, at worst, looks like an acne scar rather than an excisional scar. No stitches! And, at best, it is utterly invisible once fully healed.

    Of course, this means the “roots” of the lesion, if you like, are still there, but this is inconsequential once we know the tissue diagnosis is benign.

    This approach is quick, cheap, safe, and leaves a better scar than any formal full-thickness surgical excision no matter who would perform the latter.

    If, of course, the tissue biopsy result is something else, you've lost nothing by having the rest of the lesion excised in the formal way a week or two after the initial shave biopsy.



    All sorts of facial skin lesions get called “moles”. For all I know you might have a seborrheic keratosis, a keratoacanthoma, a lentigo, a syringoma, a pore of Winer, or a melanoma.

    I've had patients call each of these a “mole” at one point or another.

    So, you first need a diagnosis of your particular “mole”, and that will come, definitively, in the sending of the removed lesion to the path lab for microscopic examination.

    And, ideally, your doctor would have a range of treatment strategies at his or her disposal in order that any lesion is treated optimally.

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