Hello to all those who chanced upon this article via Googling for "mole removal Singapore" - you've come to the right place. I've had plenty of paranoid friends ask me to check on their moles recently - so I thought I'd write a little about it.
Personally, if I was really worried about a mole, I'd definitely go to a dermatologist. Reason? Even doctors themselves often have a hard time differentiating between normal-looking moles and scary ones. It takes years of accumulated experience for a doctor to confidently say "that's definitely not a mole I'd be worried about" when someone's life is at stake.
I went through a paranoid stage myself when I thought a bruise on my big toe nail might turn out to be a melanoma (a type of very aggressive skin cancer), and this was after I became a doctor.
Below are five important facts everyone needs to know about when it comes to moles, with some information on how to go about removing your mole in Singapore at the end:
1. The ABCDE of moles
• Everyone knows about this... I hope. GPs and most doctors use these criteria to decide if moles need further evaluation by a dermatologist.
• Dermatologists can be found privately and at the National Skin Centre, for which you'll need a referral letter from your polyclinic.
• Features of your mole I'd worry about the most would be if it were increasing in size, changed colours or started bleeding. A family history of skin cancer is a huge red flag to me too.
• A simple tip most people don't realise is to photograph your mole over a time frame (say monthly), to check if it has truly changed in size - This is immensely helpful for your doctor. Also if you spend ten shots on getting that one perfect Instagram food post, I'm sure you can spend a couple of photos on that one mole.
Note: this tip applies to all other manners of funny looking rashes - do not go to your doctor with normal skin a month after your rash has recovered and expect him to telepathically read your mind.
2. What happens when your doctor can't decide if it's a scary mole? Also, a stitch in time saves nine
• Dermatologists can usually distinguish normal moles from pre-cancerous or cancerous ones, and advise you accordingly. However, the only way to be sure that a mole isn't cancerous is to go for a skin biopsy, during which your mole will be cut out and analysed under a microscope.
• This is a very minor procedure under local anaesthetic - After the mole is cut out, you'll get between one two three stitches, or a small electric current applied to your skin to stop any bleeding. This takes less than 15 minutes in total, and you'll be walking out the door immediately after.
• A stitch in time saves nine - literally. If your dermatologist recommends that you have your mole removed, I'd strongly recommend going with his advice. Otherwise, a cancerous mole can result in your doctor performing a wide local excision, which requires a heck of a lot more than one to three stitches.
• If you still cannot decide whether to remove your mole, your doctor will usually request to take a photograph of your mole for monitoring, before reviewing you again in a couple of months.
3. Moles and pigment spots that increase in number as people age are almost always caused by the sun
• I cannot emphasize sun protection to my patients enough - As with most things health-related, prevention is better than cure.
• If you don't want a large number of moles and pigment spots on your skin in old age, cover up and apply sunblock. Although there are other causes too, whenever I meet an elderly patient with this situation, his or her history invariably involves a lot of sunlight exposure in younger days.
• Lighter skin types are especially prone to sun damage and an increased risk of skin cancers - so for all those Korean-fair Song Joong Ki types, please make even more effort to protect yourself from the sun.
• Dermatologists recommend using at least a SPF 30 sunscreen.
4. What do I need to know before deciding to remove a mole?
There are several options for mole removal in Singapore.
All of them carry a risk of mole recurrence, bleeding, infection and scarring - something to think about if an ugly mole is your main concern.
5. I still want my mole to be removed. What are my mole removal options in Singapore?
There are two main options - A shave biopsy versus an excision biopsy.
• Shaving a mole means cutting it off at the skin's surface - this is useful for moles that stick out. The area usually scabs over for a week or so before healing, but in the long run, there should be minimal scarring. No stitches are needed. Although this offers a better cosmetic result, there is a higher chance of recurrence.
• An excision is required for flat moles, which involves cutting around the entire thickness of the mole and closing the skin with stitches.
• There are other options available which involve destroying the mole tissue, thus preventing doctors from further analysing the tissue for signs of cancer. This includes using liquid nitrogen to freeze it out (cryotherapy), or using lasers, electric current (electrocautery) and radiowaves (radiocautery) to burn it off.
Anyhow, I hope you've found reading this quick post about moles and removing them useful. As for the toenail I was worried about, I had 3 different dermatologists look at it before I was finally reassured that I didn't need to have the nail biopsied - I'm glad to say that that particular toenail is all nice and grown out now.
So if you are worried about any moles yourself, do make an appointment to see your doctor today.