My Experience: Mole Removal

A few weeks back I decided to get a routine mole check, well they’re meant to be routine but it’s the first one I’ve ever had. In Australia, it’s considered worthwhile going and getting your moles checked as we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. So I should have gone more often but better late than never I guess.

As it turned out, my doctor wanted to remove a suspicious looking mole. Of all the moles I have I don’t think I ever even noticed this one so even though you think your moles are all fine there is a chance you just never noticed the one that isn’t.

Before my appointment to get it removed I talked to a few people and looked up procedures on the internet and ended up hearing and reading all these horror stories and worse case scenarios that really increased my scare factor on the day of the appointment. I was expecting masses of pain and stitches I couldn’t let get touched by a drop of water – this is true in some instances, but not for me. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure – and after that they would need to hack into more of my skin.

Because of all of that I decided I’d blog about my experience, I’m guessing it’s considered the average experience, to help out other people in a similar situation.

How much will it hurt?
The whole process barely hurt at all for me. I was advised by the nurse and my doctor that the worst part would be the local anaesthetic. It’s true, it does hurt the most but it isn’t that bad and it doesn’t last very long. Initially you’ll feel the prick of the needle and then the anaesthetic being injected in. It is a strange sensation but it only lasts 10 or so seconds and then the whole area is numb. I expected that as soon as the anaesthetic wore off I’d be in so much pain and wouldn’t be able to move freely or sleepy properly but it didn’t hurt at all. Maybe the occasional sting if I moved strange but nothing more, mostly it was just a bit uncomfortable, if anything.

What is the worst part of the procedure?
For me, the worst part was actually the stitches going in. Most people would probably disagree and say it’s the anaesthetic but, although the anaesthetic hurt I found the stitches going in a really unpleasant feeling, even if it didn’t hurt. I’d prefer the pain of the anaesthetic over having a strange feeling of something being dragged through my skin. I had 3 stitches and it lasted about a minute or so to get them in.

How long does the anaesthetic last?
It doesn’t seem like there is a set time for this, it depends on where you had it and how much. For me, it was about 3 to 4 hrs but after that I didn’t have much pain just a feeling of discomfort.

Can I get my stitches wet?
It looks like this depends on the type of stitches you have, it’s not recommended that you have a bath or soak them in water but a shower is ok. The best things is to ask your doctor, mine advised that it was best to keep them dry for a day or 2 and then I could shower as normal and, if I wanted, leave the stitches uncovered even. I chose not to do this, I found that the stitches or the wound would stick to my shirt so I preferred to keep it covered at all times and used waterproof bandages while in the shower.

How long do the stitches stay in and how do they get taken out?
I assume this is case by case but for me, I had the stitches in for 6 days, they were removed by a little tool that had a sharp edge to cut them (but not your skin, I’m not even sure how that works) and a small hook to pull them out. It didn’t hurt and was very fast. Now I have 3 steri-strips for some extra support for the scar to develop. I’ve been told they’ll last about 5 days and peel off when they’re ready but it’s ok to shower with them as long as you dry them afterwards.

These were all the questions I had, but if you have others, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer if I can.

Overall, this procedure was nothing like I expected. I’m very surprised about the lack of pain involved and that I could lie on my back without much discomfort at all. It didn’t disrupt my sleep and mostly caused no issues. If you’re interested in learning more about detection of skin cancer or treatment options the Cancer Council has a good fact sheet on it.