If your young child or pre-teen has several prominent moles on his or her face, you may be wondering whether removal before hitting the often awkward (and sometimes cruel) teen years may be the best decision. You could have concerns about scarring but still be reluctant to give your child any ammunition for bullies by having several unsightly moles. Will these moles ever go away on their own, or is removal always necessary in order to fully eradicate them? Should you wait until your child is in college and can have this procedure performed as an adult? Read on to learn more about mole removal for children, as well as a few situations in which putting this removal off for a few years may be the best decision. 

Is mole removal an appropriate procedure for a child or pre-teen?

Although mole removal is technically a surgical procedure (even if the mole is frozen off through cryosurgery), it's a minor one, generally performed on an outpatient basis with only local anesthesia. The dermatologist will inject the skin around the mole with a numbing agent and may use a small amount of nitrous oxide to calm your child and keep him or her from making sudden movements during the procedure. The dermatologist will then use a scalpel to carefully scrape the mole away, layer by layer, until it is slightly below the top layer of skin. Doing this slow, methodical removal rather than excising the mole in one fell swoop helps minimize the buildup of scar tissue that can leave a permanent mark on your child's face.

Because mole removal doesn't require general anesthesia in most cases and can be performed without causing a child any undue pain or discomfort, it's generally considered an appropriate procedure for school-aged children and older. You may be able to seek mole removal on a younger child, but due to the difficulty of keeping a young child still for an extended medical procedure, general anesthesia may be necessary. Because moles can tend to grow and spread over time, having your child's mole removed at a relatively early stage can result in minimal scarring due to the smaller size of the mole and greater ability for a child's skin to heal itself.

Because certain moles can change rapidly and develop into melanoma, having a mole removed can decrease your child's (already low) risk of skin cancer. If you've noticed multiple moles popping up recently or if your child's mole has changed color or shape, you'll want to visit a dermatologist immediately for a consultation and biopsy.

When may putting off mole removal be the best decision? 

There are a few situations in which it may be best to leave your child's mole alone for a few years. 

The first is if your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or is otherwise unable to hold still for an extended period of time while this procedure is performed. Although the area will be thoroughly numbed so that your child feels no pain, holding still while the dermatologist carefully removes the mole in a way to avoid creating scar tissue can be challenging for many young children. Although your child can be put under general anesthesia while the mole is removed, this is often deemed an extreme procedure for a mole removal that is primarily cosmetic in nature. 

You may also want to leave a mole in place if your child isn't bothered by it and it is relatively small and even-sided. Although you'll still want to keep an eye on any changes in the mole, it should be harmless -- making removal your child's decision rather than your own. You can click here for info about mole removal.