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Moles are a very common feature of skin and are often ignored especially if they show up in parts of your skin that are hidden from plain view. However, if they appear on exposed parts of your skin such as your face or neck, they can greatly affect your confidence on your appearance. They can also appear in different shapes, colours and sizes and depending on the appearance several Singaporeans have opted to have them removed by a specialist. Before you decide though, here a couple of things you need to know about mole removal in Singapore.
1. Not all moles are harmless.
Moles are caused by a concentration of melanocytes in your skin. These are cells in your skin that produce melanin which helps protect our skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. As such, they are very common and are often thought to be just harmless features of the skin. In truth though, moles can be indications of a much more serious disease such as melanoma and other skin cancers.
One way to determine if a mole or spot may indicate melanoma or other skin cancers is to use the ABCDE rule.
A – is for asymmetrical symmetry. Determine if the shape of your moles is symmetrical, i.e. they can be divided into 2 equal parts by an imaginary straight line. If they’re not, they may be dangerous.
B – is for border. A mole’s border is usually a regular curved line around it. If your mole has an irregular or scalloped border, it can be a sign of melanoma.
C – is for colour. Most moles are a single even colour of brown, tan, black, blue, red or pink. It is unusual for a single mole to have different or uneven colours or have its colour change over time.
D – is for diameter. Look for moles that are unusually large. Most moles have a diameter less than ¼ inch, or the size of a pencil eraser. If you have a mole like this, it is good to have it consulted immediately.
E – is for evolution. Watch for changes on your moles over time. If a mole changes size, shape, colour or height, it can be a symptom of melanoma. It is also possible for a mole to develop new symptoms such as bleeding or itchiness. If this occurs, have it checked by a doctor.
After a thorough checkup by your dermatologist, he/she may recommend having you undergo a mole removal procedure depending on the circumstances.
2. Check for changes on your moles at least once a month. Most moles are found on sun-exposed skin.
It is important to regularly check for changes on your moles. At least 55% of skin cancers occur on parts of your body that are frequently exposed to the sun. For women, most moles appear on their arms and legs while men have most of their moles appear on their head, back, trunk and neck.
It is recommended to check monthly for mole changes. Remember where your birthmarks, moles and blemishes appear and their usual appearance and texture. Try to search for new growths, bumps, spots and patches. Also, be sure to check for sores that have not healed within a couple of months.
Use a full-body mirror on a well-lighted room to check your moles. It is also recommended to have a handheld mirror to check on hidden areas that you can’t see on your full-body mirror.
3. There are home remedies for mole removal, but none are scientifically proven to be effective.
A lot of people swear on the effectivity of home remedies for mole removal. These can be an option for you but take note that these remedies are not supported by scientific research and may need a lot of patience, diligence and time in your part. Some of the most common home remedies include:
- Application of a few drops of apple cider vinegar on the mole with cotton – Make sure to apply some petroleum jelly around your mole to protect that skin from the acidity of the vinegar. Wrap the cotton with some tape and let it soak for a couple of hours. Repeat 3 times a day for a couple of weeks or more.
- Applying crushed and ground garlic paste on the mole – Similar to the vinegar remedy, it is important to protect the skin around the mole with some petroleum jelly. Cover the garlic paste with a bandage to secure it. Leave it on for 3-4 hours before removal. Repeat this once a day for 2 weeks or more.
- Placing small pieces of banana peel directly on the mole – Secure the remedy with some adhesive bandages or tape and leave on overnight. Repeat each night until the mole lightens in appearance.
Remember that these home remedies may or may not work depending on the situation. If they’re not working out for you, there are a couple of mole removal procedures that can be done by doctors and registered clinics in Singapore.
4. Mole removal can be done through surgical procedures.
Remind yourselves to always consult your dermatologist before undergoing any of these procedures. He/she may recommend you undergo a series of tests before he/she may clear you for surgery. Here are some options for you to choose from for mole removal in Singapore:
- Shave Excision
In this procedure, the doctor surgically shaves off the mole and is often done with moles that protrude out of your skin’s epidermis. This is done by first applying a local anaesthetic to the mole and surrounding area to minimize the pain. After this, the doctor uses a small scalpel to cut off the mole until it becomes flat and level with the skin surface. This causes bleeding and a combination of pressure and topical medication is applied to stop the bleeding.
- Punch Biopsy
This procedure is done on smaller sized moles. First, a local anaesthetic is applied using injection on the surrounding area. This may cause a mild burning sensation on your skin for a couple of seconds. The doctor then uses a circular tool to “punch out” a small section of your skin that includes the mole and deeper layers of your skin. This may need some stitches and dressing or bandage is applied over the site to protect the wound and stop the bleeding. This may also cause some scarring on the affected area.
- Excisional Biopsy
For irregular shaped or large moles that are flat and have almost no protrusion, an excisional biopsy is done to remove the mole. Anaesthesia is first injected on the area surrounding the mole to reduce the pain. The doctor then uses a scalpel to remove an entire lump of skin including the mole. Depending on the depth of the mole, this skin may include the dermis and the fatty layer of the skin. With bigger moles, the wound will most likely require stitches and some dressing is applied to stop the bleeding and prevent infection. After recovery, some faint scarring may occur on the area.
Remember that not all clinics offer all 3-mole removal procedures in Singapore. These surgical procedures can cost around $260 to $400 not including consultation. Always do your research and read reviews before choosing your dermatologist and clinic.
5. A laser procedure can also be done for mole removal.
If you want a procedure that is safe, nearly painless and noninvasive, then laser treatments are the best for you! The only downside is that laser treatments can only be used for flat, superficial moles. The laser cannot reach deep into the skin and thus for moles with “deep roots”, a surgical procedure is recommended.
The procedure is done by first applying a local anaesthetic around the affected area. The doctor then uses a laser to excise the mole’s pigmentation and tissue. You may feel a slight tingling sensation akin to someone snapping a rubber band on your skin during the process. After the procedure is done, you may notice some immediate results regarding the pigmentation. The body will then naturally clear away the remaining pigmentation in the mole. A scab forms on the affected area but will eventually fall off. It is recommended to shield the affected area from direct sunlight for at least six weeks. One advantage of laser treatments is that scarring rarely occurs as long as you follow the instructions of the doctor for post-treatment care!
This procedure usually requires about one to three sessions with a period of six to nine weeks between each session. Laser treatments cost around $150-$400 per session depending on the size and depth of the affected area.
Whether it’s for aesthetic purposes or for a much more serious reason like prevention of skin cancer, Singapore has access to multiple options for mole removal. It is important to take care of one’s health and physical appearance and mole removal may be what you need to boost your self-confidence. Always consult with your doctor and have tests done before undergoing any surgical or laser treatments.