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Mole removal by laser is a straightforward procedure performed with the use of an ablative CO2 laser. The energy of the laser is applied to the pigmented area which evaporates the pigments within the skin. It is suitable for both flat and raised moles. Sometimes more than one session may be required for complete mole removal.
Mole removal is generally well tolerated with minimal discomfort. The area can be treated beforehand with numbing cream or injected with local anaesthesia. After the procedure, a scab forms which protects the underlying healing skin. It usually falls off in about 7 days.
For smooth recovery, patients are advised not to touch or prematurely remove the scab on their own. Antibiotic cream is also applied to decrease the risk of infection. Prolonged exposure to water or excessive sweating is not advisable before the skin has healed and scabs have fallen off.
The skin should also be protected from sun exposure to prevent hyperpigmentation of the treated area. It is common to have a pink or red mark after the scab falls off post-laser mole removal, which in normal circumstances will gradually fade over a few weeks if the skin is protected from UV radiation. Other risks include scarring and hypopigmentation.
It is important for patients to know that the rate of recurrence can range from 10-30% over a period of months to years after laser mole removal. This may be due to residual pigment cells/root lying in the deeper layer of the skin where the laser did not penetrate. A repeated procedure is usually acceptable but for repeatedly recurrent or larger and deep moles, your doctor may advise on surgical excision for better clearance.
Compared to other treatments such as electrocautery and cryotherapy, the use of laser for mole removal is a more controlled procedure of removing the pigment cells selectively while minimizing unwanted damage to surrounding skin cells. This in turns lowers the risk of scarring. It should only be performed by adequately trained and licensed medical practitioners. Hence it has become the preferred method for removal of moles, oil seeds and skin tags.