MOLES AND NEVI – BENIGN SKIN TUMORS
The commonly known ‘mole’ (scientifically termed ‘nevus’) is the most frequently encountered benign tumor of the skin. The term ‘mole’ is usually employed to describe any number of benign skin tumors.
‘Benign skin tumor’ is, in turn, the term used to describe any and all protrusion or lesions of the skin which are not malignant. This means that they do not carry a health risk.
WHEN TO REMOVE A MOLE
A benign lesion of the skin may be removed because of:
• Suspicions that it may develop into a malignant lesion in the future
• Aesthetic concerns
• The location of the protrusion on the body or face, which may annoy the patient in their daily activities.
Practically speaking, there is no person that does not have at least one benign tumor on their skin. Therefore, it is such a common phenomenon that there really is no cause for concern. In some cases, however, benign tumors may run the risk of developing into malignant tumors. In such cases, it is best to have them removed.
In addition, because patients are unable to determine on their own whether or not a benign tumor has become a malignant one, they ought to address a doctor over the slightest doubt. Any change in the tumor’s color, shape or size may be cause for suspicion. It is also advisable to have benign tumors removed when they are located in areas that experience frequent injury or abrasion, such as the palms or soles of the feet. Once the plastic surgeon has examined the nevus, he or she will decide whether it is benign or suspicious and whether or not it should be removed.
It is a commonly held belief in Greek society that moles should not be removed. This is an entirely incorrect belief and has caused problems several times with delayed diagnoses. This unsubstantiated belief has existed for a very long time, but has since been fully and scientifically disproved. It is still, however, a widespread belief. Unfortunately, while many patients could easily receive help, if they consulted early a doctor on about removing a suspicious nevus, in most cases the consultation is made too late, and by that time the nevus will be changed into a malignant one. Of course, by that point it is far too late, and the ailment will have progressed quite far. For this reason, whenever the patient observes some change in a nevus he/she should get in contact to a plastic surgeon, who will then be authorized to advice which the next steps are.
METHODS OF REMOVING NEVI
The main methods of nevus removal are the surgical method, and occasionally removal via laser. Not all nevi are eligible for removal via a laser. Once again, it is up to the plastic surgeon to determine the eligibility of each nevus and inform the patient about the pros and cons of each method of removal.
Laser removal focuses more on the surface, but does not usually leave scarring. Provided we are certain that the lesion in question is benign, the nevus can be removed via laser without leaving behind any sort of scar. Of course, if there is the slightest suspicion that the nevus is becoming malignant, it must be removed radically and sent for a biopsy. The method of removal however, must be decided upon following a discussion with the surgeon.
The scarring left after the nevus is removed depends upon:
• Its size
• The method of removal
• The organism’s healing capacity
Other methods of removing nevi include cauterization, dermabrasion, the application of chemical substances, etc.
Other benign lesions of the skin include flecks and blemishes. These may also be removed via the application of chemicals or laser.
It is important that people who have nevi should not adhere to outdated myths, e.g. “Moles should not be removed, as this may cause maladies”, but should rather address an expert, who is very capable of deciding which procedure is correct for each case.