Video Production by Josh Melendez

Note: Check out our updated video on Atypical Moles!

This video discusses the range of dysplastic nevi (atypical moles) from mild to severe, briefly describes treatment scenarios, and shows an actual procedure to remove a dysplastic nevus (atypical mole).

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Important Footnotes:

For Mild or Mild-Moderately Atypical Mole: We normally recommend MONITORING these. If they show signs of growing back (darkness, bump, tenderness, …) then we should consider excising. If you want the atypical mole excised instead of monitoring, that is an option.

For Moderately Atypical Mole: We normally recommend EXCISING these. There is some debate on if these can just be monitored.

For Moderate-Severely Atypical Mole: These should be EXCISED.

For Severely Atypical Mole: These should be EXCISED.

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Video Transcript:

♪ [music] ♪ Okay, so today, we’re going to be talking about the concept of atypical moles or dysplastic nevi.

Now, there is some debate in the dermatology community about how we treat these and how we diagnose these. So, it is important for you to have a conversation with your local dermatologist to find out what treatment is right for you for each one of these diagnoses. Now, all of us have moles and we don’t need to do anything with those moles except for monitor them.

And if we ever see that they are growing or changing, then you need to come into your local dermatologist and ask them if anything needs to be done for these moles. And we’ve all heard the term melanoma, and melanoma is the term for skin cancer. It’s a very bad skin cancer, you do not want melanoma at all. So, in between the concept of a normal mole and a melanoma, there is the concept of the atypical nevi or atypical moles.

And we classify those based off of mild, mild to moderate, moderate, moderate to severe, or severely atypical moles. Now, when you get closer to the mild or mild to moderate, there is such a low biologic potential of those turning into a skin cancer called melanoma.

But the general consensus among dermatologists is we don’t need to do anything with those except for monitor them to see if they’re coming back. When we get to moderately atypical moles, there is a lot of debate within the dermatology community about what needs to happen. So, what I encourage you to do is talk to your local dermatologist about the diagnosis that you’ve been given, as well as what is appropriate for you, for your individual healthcare condition, and overall picture of how your moles look to determine if that moderately atypical mole needs to just be monitored, or if it can be excised.

Now, once we get to a moderate to severe or severely atypical mole, the general consensus among dermatologists is that we need to cut those out. So, we need to excise them and cut them out. But no matter what you do, what you decide to do after a conversation with your dermatologist, for any of these atypical moles, you do need to look at them every month in the mirror to see if they are coming back.

So, if you see darkness, or pigment, or the scar is bumping up and looking abnormal from what it did look like, then you need to go back and talk to your dermatologist. So, no matter if you’re monitoring the mild or mild to moderate, or you’re cutting out the moderate to severe or severely atypical moles, you need to look at those every month in the mirror and see if they’re coming back.

And then whether you’ve had one or whether you’ve had 20, we do recommend that you have a full body skin exam every year for the rest of your life by a dermatologist. And that’s kind of a minimum recommendation. Now, the more of these atypical moles that you have, the increased risk you carry of developing a melanoma either in that atypical mole or somewhere else on your body.

So, you really need to look at your body every month in the mirror and see if anything is growing or changing. Your dermatologist wants your help. Nobody knows your body better than you do. And the more you help us help you, the better everything will turn out for you. So, I encourage you to have a conversation with your local dermatologist about what is appropriate for not only future monitoring, but also how to take care of each one of your atypical moles.

As always, we thank you for allowing us to help you become comfortable in your skin. Thank you for watching this video and for becoming interested in your health. You can find more information in the description below that relates to not only this topic, but also websites like yourhealthu.com, or Your Health University, or Doctors Quarterly, that’s going to have a library of information that we are going to be developing over the years so that you can find information on the topics that you are interested in.

Because remember, an educated patient is the best patient and you have the power to control your destiny. ♪ [music] ♪

About the author

Dr. Anderson with Doctors Quarterly Magazine - Cropped
Dr. Reagan Anderson

Dr. Anderson is a Board Certified Dermatologist and Mohs Micrographic Surgeon. He serves as a Clinical Professor of Dermatology and is actively involved in patient and healthcare provider education on dermatology conditions and treatment.

Colorado Dermatology Institute
8580 Scarborough Drive / 1220 Lake Plaza Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado