Why Would a Patient Want Both a Dermatologist and a Plastic Surgeon to Have a Mole Removed?

If a patient is just going to end up seeing a plastic surgeon to make the removal/scar area look right, then why see a dermatologist? Can the plastic surgeon send the tissue to a lab to check for cancer?

Doctor Answers 7

Plastic surgeons can biopsy a mole and send it off just like a dermatologist

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Plastic surgeons can do that as well. You have check with the particular plastic surgeon that you are seeing to see if this something that he is comfortable with. I would get multiple opinions and see their results and ask them as many questions as possible. Below is a video to illustate our answer better. 

Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Plastic Surgeon vs. Dermatologist for mole removal

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Both physicians can remove moles, as can other types of physicians.  However, Dermatologists remove many more moles than Plastic Surgeons and therefore, are typically the most experienced "mole removal" physicians.  

Dermatologists are better trained in identifying the type of "mole" (or skin cancer) that you may have and hence, selecting the most appropriate and least likely to scar removal method.  The choice of removal method is very significant in determining the final scar, if any.  Dermatologists usually have a wider range of mole removal tools also.  Often, what a patient perceives as a "mole" is something different than a mole that does not need to be excised, but may be better treated by light electrosurgery without any scarring.  Or other times, the "mole" or lesion is not a growth at all, but a focal (single) inflammatory lesion (a very small single skin rash) that may respond scar-lessly to a topical cream.  A "mole" may be a skin cancer and require an altogether different work-up and treatment.

Moderm Dermatologistic Surgeons are equally adept at suturing and reconstruction of wounds created from skin cancer or mole removal as Plastic Surgeons.  Individual variances exist of course in both specialities.  And some might argue that Dermatologists are better since they tend to perform these functions more than Plastic Surgeons as a general rule.  

In summation, you should always see your board certified Dermatologist first for any "mole" or skin issue and discussion of who should remove it should start there after an accurate dermatologic evaluation.



Robert Strimling, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.3 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Mole removal with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Whether a dermatologist or plastic surgeon removes your mole is truly up to you and your doctor. A board certified dermatologist has excellent training in mole removal and usually performs this procedure multiple times everyday as a routine practice. Some Dermatologists have also done a fellowship in procedural dermatology and are recognized as experts in cosmetic surgery as well as skin cancer removal. Therefore, This group of dermatologists will have extensive experience with reconstructive surgery and can provide an optimal outcome for your mole removal. In any case you need to be sure that whoever removes it is a good surgeon first and foremost.

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist

Both Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons Perform Mole Removal

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Most dermatologists perform mole removals several times every day. With that much practice, we get pretty good at the procedure.

Actually most moles can be removed from the face with little or no scarring. Ones on the back also heal well when they are shaved off and allowed to heal naturally. Using stitches on the back, leads to a wide or "spread" scar. So it is usually best just to excise them and cover with a Band-aid.

Moles on the legs are a special situation because it takes around six months for the red "scar" to go away. So we might suggest it be done in the Fall, so we have plenty of time when the area will be covered.

The most common reason a plastic surgeon is helpful is when it appears the scar might be worse than the original mole.

Of course some plastic surgeons are strictly cosmetic surgeons and will not file insurance even when the procedure is medically necessary. When a plastic surgeon is recommended, your dermatologist should be able  to refer you to someone who will accept your insurance.

T. Wayne Day, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon

Plastic Surgeon and Dermatologist?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thanks for the question.

Although not clear in your description it sounds like you may be undergoing the Mohs  procedure. If this is a case,  the dermatologist may specialize in this procedure (with the appropriate training and equipment) and the plastic surgeon's role  is to reconstruct the “defect” after the Moh's  procedure.

If the Mohs  procedure is not being done then the plastic surgeon  should be able to do both the excision and reconstruction.

I hope this helps.


Mole removal

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

If you are going to a plastic surgeon for a mole removal, they will send the tissue for pathologic analysis to be sure it is benign.  The reason for seeing a dermatologist is not because of THIS mole, but for future followup of other moles.

Plastic surgeon for mole removal

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
In my area of New York City, patients traditionally went first to dermatologists who then referred them to me for excision. What I have observed during the recession is that patients are coming directly to my office when they recognize that a lesion will require excision rather than to pay an additional copayment. All specimens in my office are sent to a dermatopathologist for evaluation. If a patient has additional lesions with questions as to their etiology or conditions requiring nonsurgical assessment, it is my practice to then recommend that they see one of several excellent board certified dermatologists for treatment.

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.