Shave the Mole or Remove It All by a Plastic Surgeon? (photo)

Hi, I have a mole that is located on my left cheek right above the mustache end. This mole is about to be removed by a plastic surgeon.I know I am going to have a scar and I have been researching the mole removal procedures and it seems this is the procedure that will leave the biggest scar out of all the other procedures. So now I am reluctant to remove the mole using this method and I am thinking about shaving the mole and have less scar? So what do you doctors think? shave it or remove it?

Doctor Answers 12

Removal of mole on the face

I have shaved thousands and thousands of facial moles.  The vast majority of the time the results are very good to excellent.  There is always the risk of mole or pigment recurrence and I advise my patients about this risk.  A dark mole is more likely to recur with dark pigment after a shave procedure.  Shave works best for moles that are raised.  It is difficult to shave a flat mole without leaving a depressed scar.  The shave techique is highly operator dependent.  It is better to be conservative and leave a slight bump than to go too deep and leave a crater scar.  I tell my patients that they can always have the mole excised after a shave procedure if they don't like the scar or if the mole recurs. 

Lone Tree Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Mole Removal can be done with minimal scarring

A scar becomes noticeable if it...

     1. heals a different color than the surrounding skin

     2. becomes wide during the healing process

     3. becomes raised or"hypertrophic" during the healing process

These three features can be minimized by using basic plastic surgery principals which deal with each of these issues at the time of the mole excision.

When I perform mole removal I take into account the location, skin type and  skin tension in the area of the mole to best plan the most cosmetic way to remove the lesion.  Your moles appear to be removable with minimal scarring using these techniques but a proper examination is needed to be certain.

I have removed similar moles to yours and have before and after pictures on the link included below.

Dev Wali, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Shave biopsies are not a good way to diagnose and excision can be done so that the scar can be acceptable

You just have to make sure that you are choosing the right doctor. You will have the right intuition. Your doctor should care about your results.  Laser removal is another option but you will have more variable healing. But the benefit is that with the laser the removal is concentrated on just the mole and doesn't have to be twice as long as the width of the mole. Below is a video to illustate our answer better.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

Excise or Shave Mole?

Thank you for the question and picture.

If this mole were on my face I would want it to be excised rather than “shaved”. The excision will allow for complete removal, less chance of recurrence, and a finer ( more predictable) line scar  than shaving will allow.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,486 reviews

Moles is good locations

Your mole is well located in the nasolabial fold and so a formal excision will make a much less visible scar there as it is aligned with the natural fold.  One out in the middle of the cheek might be another matter.  I'd go with excision of the one you have because dark ones also tend to recur after shaves.  Finally, any dak mole should be examined pathologically and in the rare chance it is a melanoma, having shaved it ruins the best prognostic indicator of treatment and survival, namely its depth.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Dark moles will retain their color after shave removal

If it is the color that bothers you, the excision would be the way to go.  Faces heal well, and your scar should be minimal in 2 or so years.  Best to you.

Carolyn Jacob, MD
Chicago Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Shave or excision of mole

Your mole does not look very raised and is quite darkly pigmented.  For these reasons, I would recommend excision rather than shave.  It will allow the mole to be removed in its entirety for histological analysis and whilst it will leave a scar (shave excision also leaves a scar, although different), it should fade in time and the hope would be that it would be difficult to see after some months.  Good luck.  Jonathan Staiano 

Jonathan J. Staiano, FRCS (Plast)
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Best way to remove a mole

Shave removal and excision with sutures are 2 ways to remove a mole. In either case the mole is almost always sent for pathological evaluation. Shave removal can have an excellent outcome if done properly as can excision with sutures. A conservative approach would be to shave the mole and evaluate the cosmetic outcome results. In a vast majority of cases this is can bring an excellent result. You can always later perform excision if the results are not excellent or the mole comes back.

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Whether to shave or excise a facial mole

Depending on its size and location, facial moles can be easily removed by either technique. Dermatologic surgeons, not plastic surgeons, typically do both procedures expertly and can decide which would be best for your particular mole. Either method, done properly, should result in a minimal scar. If for any reason a shave excision does not heal as well as expected, it can always be excised and sutured at that time, but this almost never happens in my experience. I would recommend being evaluated by a board certified dermatologist that specializes in surgical procedures, as plastic surgeons rarely do shave excisions.


Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Dark moles are usually best excised and sutured up.

Your mole will most likely look the best with an excision with dermabrasion of the edges and a couple of tiny sutures followed by a light dermabrasion of the scar about 6 weeks later.  Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 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.