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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : I have some moles that I’ve considered removing for a while. I’ve heard that if a mole isn’t suspicious looking or causing any problems, you should leave it alone. Is this true?
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The Trusted Source
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Rebecca Campen, M.D., J.D., is an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. She divides her time between clinical practice of dermatology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and private practice in Savannah, Ga.

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December 13, 2011
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A:

You should have a skin exam to make sure that you do not have atypical moles. Such moles may have:

  • Asymmetry
  • Irregular borders
  • Color changes
  • Diameters greater than a pencil eraser

Your doctor should examine moles that itch, bleed, or change in any way, too.

If the mole does not look suspicious, you are correct. You can leave it alone.

But you might want one or more moles to be removed for cosmetic reasons. Be aware that health insurance usually does not cover removal of moles only for cosmetic reasons.

If you do decide to have any moles removed, this can be done by a simple shave, freezing or a small cut followed by stiches. It depends on the size of your mole and where it is. Any procedure can leave a scar.

Talk with your doctor. He or she can help you understand the procedure, including the risks and benefits. Then you can make a well-informed decision.

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