Do Moles Grow Back After Removal | Can Moles Grow Back

Moles or nevi are a common type of skin growth that can appear anywhere on the body. They are typically harmless and may not require treatment. In fact, some people see them as beauty marks. Regardless, others choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons or if they become bothersome.

One of the most commonly asked questions about mole removal is whether or not moles can grow back after being removed.

The short answer is yes, moles can grow back after removal. However, several factors can affect the likelihood of a mole growing back and whether or not it will be the same as before.

Factors Affecting Mole Regrowth

Mole regrowth after removal can occur and is influenced by several factors:

  • Incomplete Removal. The most common reason for regrowth is that the entire mole is not removed in the first place. Moles have cells that extend deeper into the skin, and if these cells are not removed during the initial procedure, the mole can grow back.
  • Types of Mole Removal Procedure. The method used to remove the mole can affect whether it grows back. Excision (cutting) usually has a lower chance of regrowth compared to other methods like shaving or laser removal.
  • Type of Mole. Some types of moles, such as dysplastic or atypical moles, may be more likely to grow back after removal because they often involve deeper layers of the skin.
  • Healing Process. If the area doesn't heal properly or an infection occurs, this can also contribute to the regrowth of the mole.
  • Individual Factors. Each person's body reacts differently, and individual healing processes and genetic factors can also play a role in whether a mole grows back.

What Are the Characteristics of a Cancerous Mole?

It's crucial to recognize the signs of skin cancer early on for prompt intervention and avoid the spreading of cancer cells.

A cancerous mole, often associated with melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer, has specific characteristics that help differentiate it from non-cancerous or benign moles. One common method for identifying potential melanoma is the "ABCDE" rule:

  • Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the mole, the two halves won't match in size or shape.
  • Border. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven, ragged, notched or blurred.
  • Color. Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. Several different shades of brown, tan, black or even red, white and blue could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue.
  • Diameter. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (1/4 inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
  • Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color, elevation or another trait or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting can be a sign of cancer.

It's important to note that some melanomas do not follow these rules. There's also a type of melanoma called nodular melanoma which is typically invasive at the time of diagnosis (meaning it has penetrated deeper into the skin). Nodular melanomas are usually symmetrical, not multicolored, and have a regular border.

How Do Skin Doctors Remove Moles?

The following are some of the most common mole removal procedures your doctor performs:

Surgical Excision

This is one of the most common methods of mole removal, especially those suspicious moles. Your doctor numbs the area around the mole with local anesthesia and then cuts out the mole along with a small margin of healthy skin. The wound is then closed with stitches. This surgical procedure is typically used for larger moles and moles that have irregular shapes or are suspected to be malignant.

Shave Excision

In surgical shave excision, your doctor numbs the area and then uses a sharp, small surgical blade to shave off the mole close to the skin's surface. This method is usually used for smaller, non-cancerous moles that are raised above the skin. It doesn't usually require stitches, and scarring is minimal.

Freezing (Cryotherapy)

For some small, non-cancerous moles, a surgeon might use cryotherapy for removal. This involves applying liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the mole tissue. The dead tissue then falls off over time. This method is less invasive than surgical or shave excision, but there's a risk of blistering or discoloration.


In some cases, after a shave excision, the dermatologist might use an electric current to cauterize or burn the underlying dermis to remove any remaining mole cells and minimize bleeding.

Laser Mole Removal

Some types of moles may be removed using laser treatments. This method is typically used for smaller, non-cancerous moles that are located in the top layers of the skin.

What to Do About Mole Growing Back After Removal

  • Seek Medical Attention. It's crucial to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible. They can examine the area and determine why the mole has returned.
  • Monitor Changes. Keep a close eye on the mole. Note any changes in size, color, shape or symptoms such as itching, bleeding or pain. These could be signs of a potentially cancerous mole.
  • Follow Post-Removal Care Instructions. If the mole was recently removed, ensure you're following all post-procedure care instructions provided by your healthcare provider. This usually includes keeping the area clean and protected, which can help prevent infection and aid the healing process.
  • Discuss Further Treatment Options. If the mole has grown back, discuss further treatment options with your dermatologist. Depending on the type, size and location of the mole, as well as whether it's suspected to be cancerous, treatment may involve surgical excision, shave excision, freezing (cryotherapy) or laser removal.
  • Regular Skin Checks. Regular skin checks can help detect any new or recurring moles early. If you have a higher risk of skin cancer — due to factors such as fair skin, a history of sunburns, many moles or a family history of skin cancer — your dermatologist may recommend more frequent skin exams.

Care Tips After Mole Removal for Quick Recovery and Complications Prevention

After mole removal, it's crucial to follow your surgeon's instructions to ensure quick recovery and prevent complications. Here are some general care tips:

  • Keep the Area Clean. Once the bandage can be removed (usually after a day or two), gently clean the area with mild soap and warm water. Avoid scrubbing the area and pat it dry.
  • Apply Antibiotic Ointment. If recommended by your doctor, apply a thin layer of over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the wound. This can help prevent infections.
  • Cover the Wound. After cleaning the area and applying ointment, cover it with a clean bandage or dressing. This helps protect the wound from bacteria and reduces the risk of scarring.
  • Avoid Sun Exposure. Protect the scar from the sun as it heals, because sun exposure can darken the scar and make it more noticeable. Wear protective clothing, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and seek shade whenever possible.
  • Refrain from Strenuous Activity. Avoid strenuous activities that could stretch the skin and disrupt healing, especially in the first few days after removal.
  • Watch for Signs of Infection. Monitor the wound for signs of infection like redness, swelling, pus or increasing pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Follow Up with Your Doctor. Attend all follow-up appointments so your doctor can monitor your healing process. If the mole is suspicious, it will have been sent to a lab for testing, and your doctor will discuss the results with you.

Remember, everyone's skin heals at different rates and the above are general tips. Always follow the specific post-operative care instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

Are You Concerned About Moles in Your Skin? Talk to a Board-Certified Surgeon at TMSC

If you have concerns about moles on your skin or want them removed, The Minor Surgery Center (TMSC) can help.

TMSC is one of the leading minor surgery clinics in Toronto, with a team of experienced and board-certified plastic surgeons. We specialize in hand and skin pathology surgeries, including mole removal. Our team uses advanced techniques and cutting-edge technology to provide effective, safe and minimally invasive mole removal procedures.

Book a consultation with TMSC today to discuss your concerns and learn about the best treatment options for you. Your skin health is our top priority!

April 3, 2024