Laser treatment of moles and lumps on the face or body
The treatment of moles and lumps on the face or body varies depending on whether they are suspicious or not. Benign, fleshy growths on the face or body are much more common than skin cancers. They have many different names, such as epithelial naevi, sehorrhoeic keratosis, hamartoma, fibro-epithelial polyp, etc. Essentially, as long as the history and examination is not suspicious, they are treated the same way. The use of flash scanned Carbon Dioxide laser technology allows a stitchless and scarless removal of moles – very important on the face.
In treating moles, Mr. Mike Dilkes provides the most current, optimal testing and treatments for mole removal, based on medical research and consultations with leading experts in the USA and Germany.
Treatment of small benign facial growths
The treatment of small benign facial growths is very straight-forward using laser techniques. The principle relies not on the removal of the growth but on rendering it flat and level with the normal skin, so that it is essentially cosmetically neutral – invisible. What tends to make a mole noticeable is its height or prominence off the skin, due to shadowing, etc. The flattening effect is achieved using a scanning carbon dioxide laser, which has an ablative, but delicate, tissue removal effect (e.g. Silktouch flash scanning). Removal occurs in a flat plane, therefore making no holes in the skin or mole, leaving an even, contoured effect, the end result being that the mole is flat and flush with the skin. Pigmented (brown) moles tend to have all their colour removed by this technique, and raised fleshy moles, once made flat, are no longer visible, since they are essentially the same colour as skin.
Treatment of suspicious skin lesions
Suspicious (i.e., possibly cancerous) skin lesions need to be treated much more aggressively than benign lumps/moles. The history of the skin growth usually gives away the underlying cause – if it has recently started to grow or change colour, or bleeds easily or is painful, etc., then this is suspicious. We also examine moles carefully, often using a microscope, to see if there is any ulceration or cause for concern. Skin cancers generally look very different from benign moles which have usually been there for years.
We treat some forms of skin cancer by laser removal, i.e., using the laser as a scalpel, with stitches needed and there is a scar. Some forms of skin cancer can be treated with photodynamic therapy, which avoids a scar.
Treatment: Preoperative photographs may be taken for archive only (see later). Each mole will have a small amount of local anaesthetic injected into the skin below it. This will sting slightly for a few seconds. Once the area is numb, lasering occurs using scanned laser technology to flatten the mole. Depending upon the size of the growth, the procedure takes between one and five minutes per area treated. We have had no significant cases of bleeding or postoperative pain in over 500 cases treated.
Post operative care
After treatment, a small amount of Vaseline is applied on each area. This needs to be washed off at four hourly intervals. After washing the area needs to be dabbed dry with a clean towel and further Vaseline applied. This is in order to prevent a scab forming which would take several days to drop off and heal. Once the Vaseline has been repeatedly applied for a period of between two and five days, the area underneath will be dry and no further Vaseline application is needed. The treated area will be reddened and then pink for between two and four weeks post-surgery, this can be easily covered up using standard make-up, etc. The further away from the face, the longer the redness will persist, so a mole on the foot would take a long while to heal. Often in slow healing areas, a small patch of pale scar tissue is left where the mole was; generally this is far better cosmetically than a large and raised mole.
This treatment does not permanently remove the growth as stated, it simply treats it without the need for a scar or stitches. We feel that it offers significant advantages particularly on the front of the face where any scar, etc. is more noticeable. The growth may come back over the years in which case it can be safely retreated.
Examples: We don’t publish or show pictures of our patients who have had mole treatment. This is often a private and sensitive issue, patients may have had their moles for many years and have wanted rid of them for a long time. We feel therefore that to ask to publish photographs is not in the spirit of the treatment. You’ll have to trust us!