Veterinarians and plastic surgeons have something in common: we both operate on moles. But the moles I remove are usually not furry 4-legged critters.
The average person has 25 moles on their body – these are actually benign tumors. The more moles you have, the more likely you are to develop a type of skin cancer called melanoma. If your mole is larger than the eraser on a pencil, has more than one color, has rough borders, itches, or bleeds it should be removed. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists spend a lot of their lives removing moles, and each mole should be looked at under the microscope to make sure it’s benign. Plastic surgeons will try to give you the best scar possible.
While you might expect that any doctor can evaluate your moles, a recent study showed that the majority of doctors who were not dermatologists or plastic surgeons had minimal expertise in assessing moles. So my advice is to see a dermatologist every year for a head-to-toe exam. If a mole in a cosmetically sensitive area needs to be removed, you usually will get a better scar if you have a plastic surgeon remove the mole and repair the wound.
How to prevent skin cancer? Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 to 30 with UVA protection as well as UVB every single day. And avoid sun-tanning salons.