Moles, also known as nevi, are caused by clusters of melanocytes on the surface of the skin. Melanocytes are the cells responsible for producing melanin that gives the skin its color. Most moles are small, dark-brown skin growths, but they can vary widely in size, shape, and color.
Nevi can develop anywhere on the body, and the average person has between 10 and 45 moles. It is not unusual for moles to develop, change, or even disappear as a result of hormonal changes during adolescence, pregnancy or with age.
Most moles are benign; however, certain moles should be evaluated by a specialist in medical dermatology to ensure that they are not a cancerous skin condition called melanoma. Consult with Dr. Hal Weitzbuch, a board-certified dermatologist, or our team of expert skin cancer specialists, to evaluate your moles and determine if any are suspicious.
Suspicious moles include those with an asymmetrical shape, irregular border, uneven color, large diameter, or moles that change over time. Individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing skin cancer by protecting their skin from excessive sun exposure and avoiding tanning beds.
Other melanoma risk factors include a higher than normal number of moles, a family history of melanoma, and being born with large or unusual moles. Individuals with melanoma risk factors should make a full skin exam performed by a doctor a part of their regular health maintenance regimen.
Benign moles do not require dermatological treatment unless they are physically or aesthetically bothersome. Mole removal is a quick, outpatient procedure that involves numbing the affected area and removing the mole using a razor blade, scalpel, or punch device. Sutures may be required depending on the size of the excision and the method used. Suspicious moles may be biopsied to determine if they are malignant.
Birthmarks are congenital skin irregularities that typically appear within a month after birth. Birthmarks are normally harmless and can appear anywhere on the body. The irregularity is the result of an overgrowth of melanocytes, keratinocytes, fibroblasts, muscle, fat, or blood vessels. Some birthmarks fade with age, but the majority are permanent. Some patients opt to have birthmarks treated for cosmetic reasons.
Schedule an appointment today to have an expert at the Calabasas Dermatology Center help you determine if any lesions are concerning. We can also use dermatoscopy to help us examine all of your lesions.
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