Hearing that you have to have a mole removed was probably a nerve-wracking experience. The mole removal itself does not have to be. The procedure is relatively simple and doesn't take too long. Typically you can go home soon after. Take care of your skin properly after the mole removal to ensure smooth healing.
Two Types of Procedures
Some of the aftercare depends on the type of procedure your surgeon uses. For lighter or smaller moles, surgeons use a scalpel to shave the mole so it's slightly below the skin. They then use either a tool or a solution to stop the bleeding before covering the area with sterile dressing.
For flat, big, or darker moles, the surgeon may need to go a little deeper. In this case, the surgeon actually cuts out the mole to the border of normal-looking skin. This procedure necessitates stitches to close the wound.
Once you've returned home, wash the wound area that evening with a gentle soap. Repeat washing twice daily for at least a week. Never scrub the area.
After washing, gently pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel. Again, do not scrub. Next, apply a layer of white petrolatum to the area. Some wounds may be at a higher risk of infection, so your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic salve. Re-apply the salve or petrolatum three to five times a day. Do not allow the wound to dry out.
If your mole removal necessitated stitching, you may need to return to the office one to two weeks after the procedure for stitch removal. However, the doctor might use dissolving stitches instead. Either way, keep washing and protecting the area until it's time for your follow-up appointment. If you did not get stitched during mole removal, a follow-up appointment is usually not required.
Further Tips for Wound Care
You can typically return to full activity within a few days of having the mole removed depending on the size and placement of the wound. However, it is essential that you do not re-injure the area or get it dirty. If you are unsure about an activity, talk to your doctor.
Likewise, it's best if you don't leave your would open to the air. You don't want it to dry out, and it's more prone to attracting bacteria. In addition to keeping the wound covered with the salve, bandage it with sterile gauze.
E-Medicine Health discourages using vitamin E on the site. Vitamin E can actually slow healing and produce scarring.
After mole removal, get religious about using sunscreen, which can prevent future need for the procedure. One ounce – or a shot glass – is the recommended amount of high SPF sunscreen to apply every day. For more specifics, talk to a professional like Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists.