Many moles and birthmarks on the skin are completely benign, and pose no threat to the person on whom they appear, even if they are unsightly.
However, some “moles” may not be harmless. They may be dysplastic nevi, which have the potential to become melanomas.
Dysplastic nevi are usually irregular in size, shape and color and border. They can be located on sun-exposed or sun-spared skin areas. Dr. Victor will point out to his patients which moles appear harmless and which could cause future problems and even develop into melanoma and potentially prove fatal. That is one of the wonderful aspects of dermatology and why Dr. Victor loves to come to work every day. With just an educated viewing, he can usually tell if a patient needs further treatment for a growth or if he can reassure the patient that nothing further has to be done. Although, you may choose to have your mole(s) removed solely for cosmetic reasons and the procedure is safe and simple.
When dysplastic nevi are seen in patients who have a personal or family history of melanoma, the chances are even greater that this mole can become malignant. That is why Dr. Victor always asks about a history of melanoma from every patient he sees.
Most birthmarks are benign, but some may have a malignant potential, and some may indicate systemic disease. Café au lait spots are evenly tan flat spots on the trunk and may be in the armpit area also. They can indicate internal problems. Many skin changes can be associated with internal disease, such as losing the lateral third of your eyebrow being associated with thyroid disease.
To be safe, moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by Dr. Victor immediately:
- Larger than six millimeters
- Itches or bleeds
- Rapidly changes in color, size or shape
- Has multiple colors
- Is located where it can’t be easily monitored, such as on the scalp
Depending on their depth, location and color, as well as the patient’s skin type, age and other factors, treatment for benign but unattractive birthmarks may take the form of laser or pulsed light therapy, microdermabrasion or surgical excision.