- Mole removal costs range from several hundred to thousands of dollars depending on size, number, location and removal method
- Moles that are removed for cosmetic reasons are not covered by health insurance
- If a mole must be removed for medical reasons, health insurance does cover the cost
Moles are a common type of skin growth that can occur anywhere on the body. They’re caused by clusters of melanocytes, the cells that give skin its color. Most moles are benign and not cause for concern, but some people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. While the most accurate way to estimate your mole removal cost is to visit a dermatologist, several factors will determine how much you will pay.
How Much Does Mole Removal Cost?
Mole removal cost can range anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The size, number and location of the mole as well as the removal method all weigh into the cost.
Common moles are typically smaller than 6 mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser) although moles present at birth can be much larger. The larger the mole, the more expensive it will be to remove.
A single mole removal will be less expensive than multiple removals. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons typically charge per mole but usually provide discounts if multiple growths are being removed at the same appointment.
If the location of the mole is a sensitive area such as around the eyes, mouth, nose or genitals, it may be more expensive to remove. The growth’s location can also limit what removal method can be used, thereby affecting cost.
There are three standard removal processes for moles: laser treatment, the shave technique and excision. Your practitioner will decide which treatment is most suitable for you.
Laser removal is used for moles that are raised above the surface of the skin and smaller than 6 mm.
Your dermatologist will use a medical grade laser to break down the targeted skin cells, leaving the surrounding area and deeper layers of the skin untouched. A local anesthetic will reduce any pain or discomfort during the process, which takes approximately 5 minutes per mole.
The treated area will form a scab that will fall off after 1–2 weeks, leaving a pink mark that will fade within weeks. With this technique, the mole may recur if some melanocytes remain in the skin.
For this procedure, your plastic surgeon numbs the area with local anesthesia, then uses a flat-bladed scalpel or razor to remove the mole in multiple strokes. Each mole takes about five minutes to be removed and does not typically produce a scar. It’s possible for moles removed this way to recur.
The shave technique is often used for moles being tested for basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, two common forms of skin cancer. In this case, the moles aren’t of enough concern to be fully excised and can be partially biopsied instead.
Excision is most often performed on larger moles and suspicious moles. Changes in shape, size or color are usually warning signs of skin cancer.
An excision involves removing the entire mole, including some area around the growth, to remove all the melanocytes and eliminate the chance of recurrence. The incision is then stitched closed. Your dermatologist will use an injectable local anesthetic to reduce pain during the process, which requires 10–15 minutes per mole.
With this method, there is a high occurrence of scarring due to the depth of the incision and sutures, but these scars typically fade after 1 year.
Does Insurance Pay For Mole Removal?
Moles that are removed for cosmetic purposes are not covered by health insurance.
Removal of a suspicious mole will be covered by your health insurance with your out-of-pocket costs dependent on your individual plan. If you don’t have health insurance, paying for the doctor’s fees, biopsy and total removal if necessary can be costly.
Is It Worth Removing a Mole?
Cosmetic mole removal is a personal choice and can greatly affect how you feel about your appearance. Because it’s a nonessential procedure, it can be costly, especially when considering the removal of multiple moles. The mole may also recur and require additional treatment.
When should you have a mole removed?
A mole should be removed when it has an atypical or unusual appearance that may be indicative of skin cancer. An atypical mole is defined by the ABCDE rule as having three or more of the following characteristics:
- Border poorly defined
- Color variation
- Diameter greater than 5 mm
- Evolving (changing in appearance)
Although not all atypical moles need to be removed, they should be monitored by your doctor to determine if they should be biopsied and evaluated. The removal, labwork fees and follow-up appointments will all affect cost.
Do moles grow back?
A mole can grow back if any melanocytes are left behind during the removal process.
Shaved or lasered moles are the most likely to grow back, while complete excision makes new skin growths unlikely. In one randomized controlled trial, 94% of patients experienced recurrence at the 3-month follow-up.
Can I remove my own mole?
It is not recommended to remove your own mole at home. Although certain products and home remedies claim that it’s possible, it is highly inadvisable because of the risks of infection, scarring or chemical burns.
Mole removal cost varies widely and can vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The greatest cost factors are the size, number, location and removal method. Common treatment options are laser removal, the shave technique and excision.
Mole removals that are considered cosmetic are not covered by insurance. However, if your dermatologist suspects your mole may be cancerous, the treatment will be considered necessary and will be covered. If you are paying out of pocket, additional costs to consider are lab work and doctor fees.
Mole removal is low-risk, quick and virtually painless. However, it can cause scarring and may require subsequent procedures depending on the removal method used.
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- Wensley KE, Zito PM. Atypical Mole. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; August 25, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32809441/
- Camini L, Manzoni APD, Weber MB, Luzzato L, Soares AS, Bonamigo RR. Shave Excision Versus Elliptical Excision of Nonpigmented Intradermal Melanocytic Nevi: Comparative Assessment of Recurrence and Cosmetic Outcomes. Dermatol Surg. 2021;47(2):e21-e25. doi:10.1097/DSS.0000000000002666