WHO SHOULD REMOVE A PRECANCEROUS MOLE?
A dermatologist or plastic surgeon who specializes in precancerous moles and skin cancer removal are experts in their field for safely & effectively removing skin cancer as well as precancerous moles.
A board certified surgeon is a physician who has completed their residency training in a specialty or subspecialty. The physician also has been given a board certification by a specialized organization such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Other board organizations may be unrecognized or recognized entities calling themselves “boards.” In some cases, like Dr. Robert Garza, a surgeon can be double-board certified.
Dr. Garza works with dermatologists in Nashville who often remove a precancerous mole and refer their patients to us with any complex or larger precancerous moles.
WHAT IS SKIN CANCER?
In terms of skin cancer, it is easy to treat if caught early. That’s why it’s important to recognize and treat precancerous moles or skin spots. Skin cancers such as melanoma, actinic keratosis, and squamous cell carcinoma are a serious form of skin cancer that begins with cells known as melanocytes.
Melanoma often starts as a change to your skin. It can be a new growth or precancerous lesions, or changes to your skin that are not cancer but could become cancer over time. Melanoma can occur anywhere on your body, but it most often develops in places that have had exposure to the sun, such as your head, neck, or back.
Actinic keratosis usually starts as a hardened or flaking patch of skin. This condition is usually caused by years of UV exposure and can be removed with chemical peels. It most commonly appears on the face, scalp, chest, back, and hands. In some cases, Actinic Keratosis can progress to Squamous Cell Carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body and be fatal.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a slow-growing form of skin cancer. Patients usually see red, scaly dome-shaped bumps on their skin that may change over time. Squamous cell carcinoma is usually caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning beds. It can also be caused by certain chemicals and viruses.
Remember, as soon as you see a spot or abnormality, follow up with your doctor. That way, you can start the important task of determining whether or not it is cancer. Skin cancer can be cured if it is found and treated early.
Learn how working with a board certified plastic surgeon can help you identify precancerous cells, provide quality treatment, and offer reconstructive services.
HOW CAN A PLASTIC SURGEON HELP ME WITH A PRECANCEROUS MOLE?
First, a board certified surgeon can help you with early detection. Most of the time, when you visit your primary care doctor they will encourage you to go to a skin doctor or a skin cancer specialist.
When you go to a board certified surgeon they will be able to help you directly. They can answer any questions you have during a consultation and even identify which type or stage of skin cancer you might have.
A board certified doctor has studied for many years in this medical specialty. For this reason, a primary care doctor will usually refer you to a specialist when you have particular health concerns.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE A PRECANCEROUS MOLE?
If you would like to check your skin, the ABCDE method will help you identify areas of concern early on. The ABCDE method is a guide for checking moles and spots on your skin as follows:
Most moles form into symmetrical ovals or circles. Some atypical moles may be oddly shaped, but still benign, especially if they were present at birth. However, know that precancerous moles or sores will always have odd or bizarre shapes.
A clear difference between regular moles and precancerous or cancerous spots is, ironically, how unclear the border is between the spot and the surrounding skin. Regular moles appear as clear spots with no blurring or fading into the surrounding skin tone. Precancerous spots or lesions have a blurred border. Additionally, these kinds of skin spots are sometimes called “hazy.”
If you have moles or even freckles, you will know that they stay the same color for most of your life. Colors for normal moles include brown, tan, and other normal skin tones.
In contrast, precancerous moles and lesions change color from time to time. Also, they will have an abnormal color such as red, pink, blue, dark brown, or black. Colors may even blend together.
Size is another good indicator of a precancerous lesion. Most moles are smaller than 5 millimeters, so if you have any moles or skin spots that are larger than this, and show another one of these signs, you should ask your doctor.
Because cancer is a progressive disease, the precancerous spot will not stay the same but will get worse. The texture around the spot may get flaky, irritated, red, sore, or even bleed. These symptoms are a sure sign that you should visit your doctor.
These guidelines are particularly useful for detecting basal cell carcinoma, which is a form of skin cancer that becomes an ulcer if left untreated.
BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A BOARD CERTIFIED PLASTIC SURGEON
If you find you need treatment for precancerous moles or lesions, you should seek treatment from a specialized board-certified plastic or cosmetic surgeon. As you work with your specialist surgeon, they will be able to provide you with concentrated and quality care in one office.
Another benefit of finding treatment with one surgeon is insurance coverage. Even though most insurance companies consider plastic or cosmetic surgery non-essential, treatments for precancerous moles are often covered. And working within an office that works with your insurance can reduce medical expenses and the stress of treatment.
With excision, your surgeon will use a scalpel to cut around the precancerous skin spot in order to remove it. Once the top layer is cut and removed, your surgeon will examine the underlying layers and remove any other affected cells. The treatment area will then be closed with stitches while the wound heals. This treatment option is typically used more for larger moles since it is slightly more invasive than other options.
If your moles are smaller and less-serious, your surgeon may only need to shave the mole off with a scalpel. The area will be cleaned and can be numbed if you wish. Your surgeon may scrape away some tissue from below skin level to ensure the diseased cells are removed. The wound will be covered, and you should keep it covered until it heals.
Additional treatments may include chemotherapy and radiation.
If you get a precancerous mole removed by a plastic surgeon, they can also provide reconstructive treatments. For example, your surgeon may offer injectable dermal fillers to restore texture to the treatment area.
Another treatment for skin rejuvenation is micro-needling. This treatment stimulates the skin’s natural growth and blood flow. There may be some redness or irritation, but it will fade.
Laser resurfacing after skin cancer removal will improve skin texture after the wound heals.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR SKIN CANCER?
Two of the main risks for skin cancer and melanoma include UV exposure and family history of skin cancer. If you want to reduce your risk for developing skin cancer, use proper sun protection and limit time in tanning beds. You can also learn how to check your own skin for skin cancer with the ABCDE method and the tips listed on cancer.org.
Visit Garza Plastic Surgery today in Belle Meade, TN to discuss precancerous mole removal. Our team is happy to answer any questions you have about your treatment options. If your skin needs other treatments, we can offer a variety of alternatives and answer any questions you may have to help find the best solution for your goals. Call us today at (615) 620-7800.