Moles can be a growth under the skin or a pigment on the skin and are part of the family of skin lesions known as nevi which occur most typically on people, dogs and horses. Moles can be coloured or clear, flat or raised or a combination of both and so there are many methods available for removing moles.
Like any cut or graze, all mole removal methods may leave a small skin blemish but this can be minimised by the latest cosmetic procedures that are quick and comfortable. I have had various moles removed from my face, arms, neck and foot via shave excision and returned to Cosmedics Skin Clinic in Londons Harley Street to try pigment freezing for the very first time.
Shave excision is a fantastic technique used to remove raised moles and their pigment from the surface of the skin by removing the top layer of the skin with a razor blade which has worked wonderfully on the moles that I have had already had removed – aside from just one of them!
I previously had a large and raised dark brown mole on the top of my arm which was removed via shave excision around a year ago in an attempt to use the least invasive method possible in order to avoid unnecessary scarring from cutting the mole out and stitching the skin. I knew at the time that this method may not be enough to reach the full depth of such a large mole and that colour may return, which it has, but I am pleased that I chose this method because I have no scarring from it.
Where some of the pigment had returned in patches on my arm I couldn’t have a repeat shave excision because there is no raised pigmented skin so freezing was my best option. It is a very quick and simple procedure to freeze away the last of the pigment in my mole without changing the colour of my natural skin. The freezing took around a minute to complete and it felt similar to spraying deodorant closely onto the skin.
A whoosh of cold air made a fizzing sound as it turned my mole brilliant white leaving behind a slight stinging/tingling sensation which lasted several minutes and was unusual at first but not painful. Freezing is able to remove the pigment of the mole both on the surface and beneath the skin in order to reach more cells whilst another method is laser mole removal which is more superficial and only targets the surface of the skin. Each mole is different and therefore each treatment must be tailored to the individual to achieve the best results which is why it’s important to always visit a professional clinic and not attempt home treatments.
Immediately after the mole freezing the skin begins to blister and bubble up which is a different form of healing to the shave excision method. The skin behaves similar to a burn by reddening and looking inflamed for 7-10days and can be covered by a dressing if required. It will take approximately a month for my skin to heal and the colour to settle down, the redness to reduce and for my arm to return to my natural skin colour. At this time I can use creams and oils to massage and repair the treated area for better results.
Before the skin on my arm can heal the colour will become slightly darker which is perfectly normal and the first stage of healing. Dressings can be changed every day or two and the wound cleaned with soapy water which fits perfectly into my everyday shower regime. Whilst my arm has blistered I do not notice it, it isn’t uncomfortable and I was happy to carry on with my day and routine as normal directly afterwards.
The mole on the side of my face was removed using the shave excision method for which I was given a local anaesthetic injection to numb the area. The shave excision method consists of using a razor blade to trim off the raised skin and remove the pigment which heals to a natural skin colour just like a cut or a graze would.
Following excision the wound is cauterised to stop the minimal bleeding and covered with a dressing for which makeup can be applied over the top for discretion. Gentle, easy and quick this is the most common form of mole removal, is entirely pain free and complete within 5-10 minutes.
Most moles are perfectly safe and won’t bother you medically as they are purely cosmetic; but if you notice the shape, size, colour and condition of a mole change with time then you should always consult a doctor to have it examined. It’s helpful to take photos of your moles to refer back to them each year to monitor growth or change, especially in harder to reach areas of the body.
Having such fair skin the dark pigment of my moles is rather obvious, moreso when they are large, raised and in prominent areas of my body. I dislike how moles on my face and arms in particular cannot be covered by clothes or makeup, as much like a blemish or breakout of spots they make me feel self-conscious by being so obvious. Whilst others may never have noticed the moles that I have had removed, I do, and if there is something you dislike on your body you tend to automatically focus on and think about it more often. Once healing is complete it’s almost undetectable that anything was ever there and leaves the skin more unified, clear and youthful looking.
UPDATE: Healing Day 1
I slept like a baby last night and didn’t have any pain, discomfort or soreness from my wounds. I was expecting to roll onto my arm or face and for it to feel tender which might interrupt my sleep, but when I got into bed I slept as normal and it didn’t bother me at all – after continuing my busy day after treatment by the time it got to the evening I forgot I’d had anything done!
The wound on my face is hardly noticeable thanks to putting makeup on over the dressing and my hair covering the side of my face, but where the wound on my arm had blistered and was uncovered it surprised me by bursting today when I was reaching to get something out of the cupboard.
The blister had gradually filled with fluid and wasn’t tender, I didn’t knock or catch it to cause it to burst, I guess the pressure of the fluid inside became too much and nature took it’s course. The skin of the blister darkened just as Dr Perry had said it would, and as the clear liquid trickled down my arm it exposed beautifully fresh pink skin beneath which I cleaned with soapy water as advised before covering it with the dressings provided so as not to get an infection.
The mole on my arm has always grown horrible thick black hairs which I frequently shave and was reassured that it is completely safe and normal for moles to grow hair. With the surface of the skin removed by the blister bursting and the brown patches of pigment gone from the freezing procedure I am able to see the hair follicles beneath which I will continue to shave once my arm is properly healed. I wanted to share this update as I was excited to see the new skin beneath my blister – a relief to finally have the]ose brown patches gone forever! Hoorah!
UPDATE: Healing Day 6
During my sleep I managed to rub the dressing off of my arm without knowing and because of this it dried out and formed a scab overnight whilst the wound on my face is still nicely covered. Because of this I have left my arm undressed to continue to heal with a scab and kept my face covered so that I may put makeup over it. Fascinatingly the wounds are healing in two very different ways.
I guess it’s personal preference if you want an exposed scab or not after having a mole removal. I prefer not to have a scab on my face because I feel that I might knock or catch it, whereas with a dressing on my face that I can cover with foundation I do not notice it at all.
The scab on my arm has gathered fluff from my clothing and appears to have darker bits which are from my gym wear and not a part of the pigment. Whilst the wound on my face remains soft, pink and with white blood cells at the centre between dressing changes every few days. Please excuse the ring of glue around the wound – it’s one of those annoying things to clean off before putting on a fresh dressing.
My wounds are not sore or even noticeable to me, I’m not nervous or cautious about them as they feel like any other cut or graze would. At most the scab on my arm is 1cm in length and thankfully I haven’t caught or scratched it yet despite leading a hectic active lifestyle and going to the gym daily.
I do however sleep on my side in bed and whatever I dress my arm with rubs off as I toss and turn in the night which uncovers my wound. Having the mole on my arm has never prevented me from sleeping thought and I don’t notice it whilst I’m asleep – annoyingly I just wake up to see that I’ve rubbed the dressing off but it seems more than happy to heal naturally by itself without my intervention.
Once the scab has fallen off of its own accord and the wound on my face has produced new skin I can then start to moisturise and stimulate regrowth and a return to colour of my new pigment-free areas which I’m really looking forward to. I will also continue to wear a minimum of SPF 30 over the new skin whenever I go outside in order to protect and encourage the best results possible. I’m feeling so positive and excited to see whats underneath!
UPDATE: Healing Day 9
Day 9 into my healing and the scab on my arm is finally off! I woke up to find it nestled sweetly in my bed beside me after it had began to lift off around the edges yesterday, but I didn’t interfere, and instead let nature take its course. Gosh I’m such a restless sleeper!
With the scab off there is beautiful pink new skin beneath and no sign of pigment – hoorah! Although as I haven’t been able to shave the hair that has always grown in the mole I have a few black strands growing that I’ll shave once the skin has rebuilt it’s surface. No more designs, no more brown mole – just keeping it clean, dry and sun protected as I moisturise to help it to repair.
The mole that was on my face has been covered the entire time to allow me to wear makeup and avoid having a scab, but seeing as my arm scab came off I decided to remove the dressing on my face to allow it to heal in the same way.
Where it has been protected by a dressing the entire time, skin has repaired beautifully beneath, rebuilding the layers one at a time without any pigment. It was moist from being covered but after wiping it clean to remove any plaster glue and fluid it is now a bright pink dot on my pace which I continue to moisturise and apply high level SPF suncream to.
The next step is to continue to keep my skin clean, moisturised and protected from the sun in order to enjoy the best results possible. I’m so pleased with the process so far and it already makes a huge difference to have such dark areas removed from my body and my skin to be more uniformed without contrasting pigment. What a positive and uplifting experience – let’s hope the rest of my healing is just as good!
Remember to check back soon to see how my skin is healing!