Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q. Can I get rid of the mole on my face without surgery?

A. That depends on what you think of as surgery. In my opinion, surgery involves any sharp instrument penetrating the epidermis—for example, a needle for splinter removal. But if you think of it as a procedure requiring a large scalpel and general anesthesia, then you'll be glad to know you don't need that to get rid of your mole.

What you do need is something called a shave excision, which usually takes about five minutes and a local anesthetic in the doctor's office, says Steven H. Dayan, MD, clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Illinois. (This is assuming the mole is noncancerous.)

I've had this done, and it didn't hurt, but I have to tell you that the feeling of someone carving away at my skin like it's a piece of meat creeped me out in a big way. (I'm definitely not one of those people who'd saw off their arm—or yours—to get out of a bear trap.) After the cut, the blood vessels are sealed with a heating device, a little antibiotic ointment is applied, and you're on your way, mole-free, with instructions to keep the area clean and apply the ointment for about a week. The cost for the procedure ranges from $150 to $500, and it may be covered by insurance.

Bottom Line:
A mole can usually be removed with a minimally invasive procedure; you should heal without a mark or scar.