Why Do my Moles Keep Reccuring?

I have had 5 moles removed over the past 5 years because I thought they were changing. They all came back benign. However, 4 out of the 5 moles have reccured. One i actually had surgically removed because when it recurred, it was abnormally shaped. It also came back benign. So, my question is, why do they keep recurring? I have a few moles that i want removed for cosmetic reasons but now i wonder if its even worth it because of the recurrences ive had. BTW, they were shave biopsies.

Doctor Answers 4

Recurrence after mole removal is usually due to method of removal

I talk to patients about this at least once a day.  Moles sit in the skin like an iceberg.  If the moles were shaved off at their base, it does nothing for the roots that are deeper.  Thus, they will likely recur and I tell patients that they may be more cosmetically unfriendly when they do recur.  However, if they have been surgically removed or you can think of it as 'shelling them out', it should not recur unless there were some cells that extended deeper or more laterally than expected when looking at the lesion.  Thus a 'seed' is left behind to grow back.  If they are not suspicious for melanoma, I would leave them alone.  If you insist on removing them, then I would recommend surgically because that minimizes the chances for recurrence.  


I hope this helps.

Naples Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

This is Normal

The bottom line is that if you do not remove all the mole cells, the mole has the potential to recur.  The shave biopsy method of removal is very common and works well.  But the risk is that because you leave a part of the mole underneath, it can regenerate.  Your only other option is to cut out the entire mole, but that would require stitches and may leave a larger scar.

Lisa Benest, MD
Burbank Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Moles need to be surgically removed to have no recurrence.


Your story is not unusual.  Your moles need to be completely removed through the full thickness of the skin.  Scar usually not noticeable and no recurrence.  Plastic surgeons do this rather than dermatologists.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Recurrence of Moles after Shave Removal

It is not unusual for moles to recur after shave removal. After all, when you shave or tangentially excise something you are trying to shave it off flat with the surrounding normal skin. If you shave too deep you might end up with a depressed scar. Unfortunately, moles may extend beyond the level of the skin. In other words when you shave remove a mole you may leave mole cells (nevus cells) behind. If this is a skin-colored mole and the nevus cells don't produce significant pigment, it might heal wonderfully; however, if the mole has a fair amount of pigment or color to it the mole could recur with dark or irregular pigment. By the way if a dermatologist is really very concerned that a mole could be a melanoma the best option is to excise the pigmented lesion completely and probably suture it closed because there's a lot of prognostic information in the full-thickness of that melanoma.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

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.