Surgical mole removal may get rid of that annoying dark spot, but it can leave a visible white scar in its place. Scarring occurs because the body hurries to heals itself; in the process, it over-heals, producing a prolonged inflammatory response and layering excess collagen. Though the underlying mechanism for this process remains unknown, genetics seems to play more of a role in scar formation than aftercare, and most scar prevention efforts have little proven effect. However, you can take steps to discourage scar formation.
Follow your doctors instructions for proper aftercare. Avoid touching the wound, change the dressings regularly and avoid intense exercise, which may reopen the wound or tear your stitches.
Keep the wound clean. Dab it with hydrogen peroxide and apply triple-antibiotic moisturizing cream. The goal is to reduce the body's inflammatory response, and the presence of bacteria or debris will trigger a stronger response.
Moisturize the wound four to six times per day with a strong, thick ointment or cream, such as petroleum jelly, shea butter or cocoa butter. Do not apply moisturizer until the wound has formed a scab.
Massage the area around the wound gently to encourage blood flow.
Apply a cool washcloth to keep inflammation down.
Drink plenty of fluids and follow a diet rich in foods that are good for the skin. Healthy skin is less likely to scar, and hydration keeps skin healthy. Key nutrients for the skin include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, omega-3 fatty-acids, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Orange vegetables tend to be high in vitamin A, while citrus fruits provide ample vitamin C. For good fats and vitamin E, eat plenty of nuts, seeds and olive oil.
Wear sunscreen and avoid exposing the wound to the sun.
Apply a topical silicone gel scar treatment sheet, which can be purchased from a drugstore. Wear the sheet for the period of time prescribed on the box: usually about 12 hours per day. It may take many months for the sheets to work, but several studies indicate that these sheets are effective, especially for patients with a high genetic risk factor.
Consult your doctor about the best scar treatment for your specific type of mole removal. If you want to try an over-the-counter treatment, ask your doctor about it first and look for objective studies proving its effectiveness.
Avoid over-the-counter creams that claim to prevent or heal scars after mole removal. Studies indicate that these ointments not only don't work, but that they can actually produce new moles. While vitamin E is often touted anecdotally as a scar preventer, scientific studies indicate that it usually only irritates the skin.
- "Dermatologic Surgery"; Prevention of Hypertrophic Scars and Keloids by the Prophylactic Use of Topical Silicone Gel Sheets Following a Surgical Procedure in an Office Setting; Michael Gold, et. al.; Dec. 20, 2001
- Informa Healthcare; Emerging New Drugs for Scar Reduction; Karen Meier and Lillian B. Nanney; March 2006
- Facial Mole Removal; Mole Removal Aftercare
- MedlinePlus: Scars
- KidsHealth; The Story on Scars; Patrice Hyde, MD; January 2011