Mole removal! Comfort me, or, share your horror stories!

(Skin dots, not the burrowing critter.)

I’m going to my dermatalogist this Friday to have about a half-dozen moles removed. I’ve known for a couple of years that they’re “iffy” but lost my job (and health insurance) shortly after the last derm exam, so I’m gonna go get them taken care of now.

I was told it would be an outpatient procedure. I know little more than that. What can I expect, particularly as far as pain, both during the procedure, and post-op during the rest of that day? Will I have pain in the locations for the whole weekend?

Most of the spots in question are pretty small, but there’s a larger one on my hip (about 5." x 1") that I’m concerned about. I’m pretty much picturing someone carving it out with a grapefruit spoon - that’s not really now they do it, is it?

I had a really large one taken off my cheek and a smaller one from my eyebrow. Didn’t hurt but it was wierd to smell burning flesh during part of the procedure. The larger one involved cutting and I realized I could watch in the reflection in the dr’s glasses; but when the knife started coming toward my flesh…eek. Had to stop watching. I had no big pain but some stiffness and couldn’t really smile easily for a couple of days. No grapefruit spoons were involved. I was really relieved when the lab tests came back non-malignant. You’ll be glad to be rid of them.

I had one removed a little over a year ago - on the side of my face, changing shape so it had to go. Topical anesthesia, felt a tug, that was it. One stitch. The only icky part was the doctor showing it to me, floating in a little jar. Thanks, didn’t need that. It itched for a few days, that’s about it.

The doctor will numb each one up with a series of injections with a tiny needle- either plain lidocaine or lidocaine with epinephrine. Then, each one will be sliced off with a scalpel, very close to the skin. Then, most likely cauterized with an electrocautery device, or maybe just swabbed with some Monsel’s Solution. Then each will be covered with a bandaid, possibly with Polysporin or Vaseline on it. You will be instructed to wash each area twice a day with water or soap and water, and change the bandaids, which has Polysporin or Vaseline on them. Most likely very little or no pain afterwards- what are essentially small scrapes. No digging or going deep- that’s saved for later, if the pathology comes back as moderate to severe dysplastic mole or melanoma (unlikely for melanoma).

At least, that’s the procedure in the derm offices I have worked in.

I had one removed from the center of my forehead and didn’t feel much of anything past the numbing injections. I’ve also had large skin tags removed from my neck, but I’ve graduated to removing them myself in home surgery. It’s really not bad at all.

Thanks all who responded so far (that was fast!) and thanks especially to Alice. I’d forgotten we had a Doper who used to work in derm offices when I started this thread. :slight_smile:

I’m kinda surprised 100% of anecdotes so far involve moles on the face, though, on the other hand, I suppose that’s where we get a lot of sun exposure.

Well, most people care more about the appearance of moles on the face than, say, on the trunk, and so will have those removed far more often.

And don’t worry too much. If any of them had looked like melanoma, your doctor would have insisted on removing them on the first visit, and melanoma is much more likely to be a new growth than to arise from a mole.

I’ve had a number of moles removed, but one - which was larger and “questionable” (turned out to have precancerous changes) - was stitched up. I do have a scar from that one, but better that than cancer. It was also in an area that’s covered by the majority of bikinis, so it’s not like it’s out there for all to see.

I had one removed in college at my waist, which was cauterized, but ended up opening up during the walk home and bleeding a few bandaids’ worth of blood before stopping. (Most of it was shed during the actual walk and it did stop pretty quickly.)

I had two colorless protruding moles, around my mouth, removed by simple cutting. Within a couple months - the spots developed color and now I think they might be more obvious than they were before due to this change. :smack:

(Thanks for the mole-prone and skin cancer-prone genetics, Dad! sigh)

I’ve had a few raised moles removed, both on face and trunk. I had absolutely no problem. The biggest deal was the painkiller injections and the wait for the injections to work…so you can tell it wasn’t any sort of problem at all.

The doc cauterized a couple of the sites, and left the others to heal up without it. I didn’t have any stitches.

The procedure varies a bit. In all the cases I’ve experienced, it was local anesthesia with one or more injections of anesthetic. The injections may sting a bit (both the needle and the drug), but after that there’s no pain.

I’ve experienced three different technqiues.

punch biopsy:
a metal tube with a sharpened edge is pushed into the mole, making a circular cut. The doc then grabs the mole with forceps, lifts it proud of the surrounding skin and then cuts it free. The metal tube may or may not be larger than the mole itself. If it’s big enough, you may need a stitch to close the resulting wound.

shave biopsy:
the doc uses a scalpel to shave the top layer of the mole off, leaving the skin beneath intact.

complete removal:
If they’re more concerned about the nature of the mole, they’ll remove the entire thing, along with the skin beneath it, plus a margin of healthy skin around it. I had one taken off of my back 11 years ago like this. They made a “football”-shaped cut (like the patches on this plywood) around the mole, and then removed the full depth of skin. Five stitches were required to pull the opposite sites of the “football” back together. They cut a football shape rather than a circular shape so the skin doesn’t end up wrinkled or puckered when the pull the opposite sides together. In my case, the biopsy of this partular mole came back as “atypical,” meaning it wasn’t yet cancerous, but it had the potential to become cancerous at a later date, so removing the whole thing along with a clean margin was the right choice.

In all cases, there wasn’t much pain after the fact. The stitches were a minor annoyance, in that the pulled uncomfortably on my skin if I stretched the area, but that was easily avoided until the stitches were removed a week later.

I’ve had lots of moles removed… some shaven off, some cut out. By far the worst part of it was waiting to have it done… I have an active imagination. Once they’re actually cutting, the anesthetic is good and it doesn’t hurt afterward. No throbbing, no nothing, just a little tugging sensation from the stitches.

Best wishes for the OP! If anything, I’m a little jealous. I have a mole by my shoulder blade (round) I’d like to be rid of as well as a mole on my thigh shaped like the number “8”.

(No, I don’t know who the first seven are. Poor Bastards.)

How?? I have skin tags and I HATE them!

Oh, good luck Purplehorseshoe!

Hmmm - the oddly-shaped ones are the ones to be on the lookout for; Typo Knig had one removed that turned out to be very early-stage melanoma, and it was shaped sort of like the Mastercard logo.

He’ll doubtless pop in at some point but he’s had numerous ones removed via the punch-biopsy approach. They don’t even stitch those; just a band-aid. He keeps it covered for a couple of weeks.

The melanoma was originally removed with punch biopsy technique (I believe, may be misremembering). When it came back as “melanoma in situ” (meaning no evidence it had spread beyond the top layer of skin), they took a football-shaped slice to get clear margins. He had a couple of stitches for that one. I was in the room when they did it (though I was looking out the window!!) and it took maybe 5-10 minutes.

None of the other moles have ever turned up anything scary, but because of the one melanoma, Typo sees the doc twice a year. Sometimes they’ll yank a mole, sometimes not. Basically anything that either worries Typo, or the doc thinks bears some watching.

If you catch them early, you can just pull 'em off and it doesn’t hurt.

The part of me that likes to squeeze zits it going to really, really miss all of the nascent skin tags that this pregnancy has brought on.

I remove my own skin tags, too. The following should not be interpreted as medical advice, it’s just a recounting of what I do.

First, I clean the area and both hands with soap and water. Probably I should use rubbing alcohol, but I don’t. I clean the blades of the cuticle scissors with soap and water, and again, I should probably use alcohol. I grab the loose bit of the skin tag with the fingers of my left hand, or with a pair of tweezers. Then I just snip the “neck” of the skin tag level with the rest of the area. I only snip small tags. I almost never bleed, and of the few times when I have bled, it was only a tiny spot of blood in most cases. I did have a bit more bleeding from one snip, but nothing that a square of toilet paper couldn’t take care of. There’s almost no pain, just a bit of a pinch.

Of course, if you want to, you can have your doctor freeze or fry or snip them off during an office visit, just let the receptionist know when you make an appointment, because it will take extra time.

This might not be what your experience is like, but I got a mole removed when I was about 11. They’d planned on doing it right there in the dermatologist’s office, but then backed out at the last minute. The mole was on my hand, right underneath the pinky, which is an awkward place for a local anesthetic procedure. I was referred to a hand surgeon, and while it was still an outpatient procedure, I went to a surgery center, and was put under general anesthetic. They actually ended up taking a lot of skin, so I had to go to a physical therapist, who gave me some exercises to stretch the skin back into place.

Whatever the case is, though, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

I had a suspicious freckle biopsied on my chest last year (turned out to be fine), and I asked the doctor to prescribe me two Xanax. I took them an hour prior to the procedure and had someone drive me.

I remember leaning back on the exam table (at about a 45-degree angle) and watching the doctor come towards me. Everything seemed to be in slow motion, and I had a delayed reaction of “uh-oh, here it comes” and don’t remember much of anything else.

I highly recommend Xanax :slight_smile: Seriously, though, I don’t normally take tranquilizers but in this case it really made a huge difference in that I was much more relaxed and didn’t feel anything. Or at least, I don’t remember if I felt anything. :slight_smile:

I had a mole on my arm removed with what I guess was a punch biopsy tool. They numbed the area and then put this tiny cookie cutter thing over the mole and punched the whole thing out. I’m not squeamish, so I watched the whole thing. I was amazed that it didn’t bleed at all- the doctor said that was the epinephrine. They then stitched it up. Unfortunately, it left a noticeable scar, but I’m probably the only one that notices.

As a Texan of Irish ancestry, I’ve become a regular at a local skin cancer detection clinic.

They’ve removed a few suspicious spots with things that looked like disposable shavers; samples were put in jars for biopsy. Local anesthetic prevented pain & later discomfort was comparable to a mosquito bite. Except not itchy.

I had Mohs surgery for a basal cell carcinoma in my left submandibular area. (Hey, that’s what they called it.) Those little shots kept it pain free; the whole procedure took quite a while & was rather interesting. The area got rather swollen for a couple of days afterward but it wasn’t really painful. Neat little scar.

If my dermatologist is damn sure a spot is benign or pre-cancerous, she sprays it with liquid nitrogen. Which stings at the time; the skin turns red & heals nicely in a few days.