Mole Recurrence

If a mole is removed by shaving it off, can it recur to look worse than the original mole was (e.g. more patchy or more raised)? or would the recurring mole be similar to the original one? Many thanks

Doctor Answers 10

Mole recurrence

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When a mole is removed by shaving it off, there is no guarantee that it will not recur.  I usually recommend that if the mole is on the face, a shave excision with biopsy is advised.  If that mole keeps recurring, then a complete surgical excision may be recommended. 

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Shave removal of moles

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Shave removal of  raised moles which are benign appearing (not suspicious), is a viable alternative to full thickness excision with stiches.  A mole which is shaved, usually heals as a flat, round or oval scar which may eventually blend with the surrounding skin, may be white or pink, or may retain the pigmentation of the original mole.  There is always a possibility that the mole will regrow.  In my experience, shave removal is most useful for facial moles, where a linear scar from excision may be considered unacceptable to the patient.

Jeffrey Sklar, MD
Woodbury Dermatologic Surgeon

Mole Recurrence

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Excellent question - but no simple answer.  There is just no way to know what will happen in a case like this.  In general, though, if there is a low level of concern for the lesion and it is raised, I would advise just shaving it, as long as the resulting pigment more or less matches the existing color of the skin.  In that case, it tends to blend in pretty well. 

For a lesion (fancy name for growth or mole) that is flat, worrisome, recurrent, or anything else like that, then removing it surgically (usually by cutting it out and then closing the area with several sutures) is not only the most appropriate treatment, but will probably provide the best cosmetic result.  It may be harder to do this in some areas than in others (areas of thick, tight skin, for example) but that has to be taken into consideration when planning the procedure.

In terms of knowing how a shaved mole will look if it grows back?  I don't think there's any way to determine that.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

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Mole Recurrence

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The answer is yes and it usual does. The shaving method is great for getting a diagnosis of the lesion especially when it is located in an area that is aesthetically important such as eyelid, nose, lip, and ears. A full excision in those cases may cause a deformity or would require reconstruction.

I used the shave biopsy on occasion but most of the cases a full excision is performed to avoid recurrence and give a better aesthetically looking scar.

Good Luck!

Shaving a mole will likely lead to recurrence.

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A true mole (nevus) is a full thickness lesion of the skin and if is to be removed, a full thickness excision is necessary.  Shaving for the purpose of diagnosis will most often lead to a recurrence.

Shaving may leave cells behind

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Shaving a mole leaves some cells behind which may grow and the mole recurs.  In terms of its appearance, you must evaluate the look of the mole vs how you look now vs what the scar of a complete excision would look like. 

Mole Removal

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It is possible for a mole to recur if it was shaved off. If the mole is cancerous, the original depth may not be determined. If the specimen is evaluated, a cancerous mole may be missed. For this reason, I prefer to excise the mole completely. Full excision is the best way to ensure complete removal and evaluation. All mole specimen should be sent to the pathologist for full analysis. I hope this helps.

Stanley Okoro, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

Will mole recurrence look worse than the original?

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Whether a mole will recur after shaving it off depends on whether there is a deeper component that is left behind.

In general, I recommend removing a mole by excision.  That gives a neat, linear scar as opposed to a wide, round or oval scar.  Also, if a mole does recur after a shave removal, it may recur as irregular pigmentation, since melanocytes are stimulated by the inflammation of the removal. It is important to remember that a mole has been incompletely removed in that area, since a recurrent mole looks atypical under the microscope and it takes an experienced pathologist to recognize it as a recurrence and not as an atypical melanocytic lesion.

The mole may also just grow back eventually to be similar to what it was before removal.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon


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In my opinion and experoence moles should not be shaved. Moles must be removed full thickness to allow the patholoy to evaluate the entire mole more accurately. If it is a melanoma and was shaved then one looses the opportunity to evaluate the depth and thickness which are very importanat parameters to plan a course of treatment

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Often Patchy

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This would all depend on the age and type of mole. If the mole is old and the melanocytes are effete (this is the term us pathologists use to describe these type of mole cells), it is unlikely that there will be a recurrence. This is most common with an intradermal nevus; a mole where the melanocytes are deeper in the dermis,

If the mole is a younger mole, such as a compound nevus, where the mole cells are both deep and at the juncture between the epidermis (top layer) and dermis (deeper layer), you are more likely to have a patchy discoloration. Often patients would rather have a fleck of pigmentation in a flat piece of skin, than a protruding mole. So frequently patients are pleased with the cosmetic result.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.