Is the precancerous mole that you had removed now growing back?

When this happens, the biggest fear is that what’s growing back is melanoma skin cancer.

What would cause the precancerous mole to “grow back”?

The reason is that not every pigment cell was removed. To avoid this problem, the removal should be done with the punch biopsy technique.

A punch biopsy will remove every last melanocyte (pigment cell). However, a punch biopsy will leave more of a scar and requires a few stitches.

The scar will become less noticeable over time, and it’s not even that noticeable in the first place.

These last two points are off-putting to some patients, but the reward is that the precancerous mole will not grow back.

Can a melanoma grow where a precancerous mole was removed?

Of course it can, but this wouldn’t be a growing back of what was removed, but rather, a coincidence that a melanoma was arising in that spot.

“When a biopsy-proven precancerous mole grows back, the decision will be whether to leave it alone or to remove it to ensure clear margins,” says Dr. Tess Mauricio, MD, FAAD, a leading board certified dermatologist from Stanford University Medical School and CEO of

“The decision depends on the pathologic diagnosis. If it is a completely benign mole [that has grown back], it is not necessary to remove when it recurs.

“If it is truly precancerous, my recommendation is to remove the rest and ensure margins are clear.”

When Checking Your Skin Every Month for Melanoma…

  • Check anywhere that your eyes can see: ear lobes, behind the ears, inside the ear folds, eyelids, belly button, palms, soles of the feet, between the toes, nipples — anywhere where skin is.
  • Precancerous moles are also known as “atypical.” If you have many of these, you may want to consider serial digital dermoscopy for annual surveillance for melanoma signs.
dr. mauricioDr. Mauricio is an internationally recognized cosmetic surgeon and the youngest woman to hold the position of President of The San Diego Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



Top image: BruceBlaus/CC