Red moles: Should I be worried?

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — I recently had the pleasure of seeing a woman in my clinic for a complaint of “red moles.” This woman was in her 40s and had noted a slow increase in the number of red moles she had on her body. These spots seemed to show up everywhere.

She had them on her arms, her back, her abdomen and her face. She was slightly worried about the possibility of cancer but noted that because they had been there for so long, she thought this unlikely. She was very concerned about the new red moles on her face. For her, these were large and unsightly red spots, and she wanted to know what could be done to treat them. 

After a thorough skin examination, we visited about her diagnosis of cherry angiomas. Angiomas are a very common skin lesion. They affect both males and females equally. They can occur as early as adolescence but are much more common in adulthood. They are one of the most common types of acquired skin lesions usually occurring on the trunk and extremities. They present as bright red, flat to dome-shaped spots or bumps on the skin, which leads people to believe they are red moles.

Rather than being made up of mole cells, these red moles are collections of small blood vessels, giving them their bright red or purple appearance. They can be subject to hormonal influences and are noted commonly during pregnancy. Rarely will they resolve spontaneously. 

Cherry angiomas are benign and have no potential to turn into skin cancer. No treatment is necessary, but if they are being rubbed on clothing or hit with a hair brush, treatment for symptomatic relief can be of benefit. For angiomas that are cosmetically bothersome, removal can be achieved with shave removal, freezing, electrocautery or laser. 

For my patient, I elected to use the Vbeam Perfecta laser. Laser technology is generally based on the target you are aiming to treat. The Vbeam Perfecta laser is designed to treat vascular (superficial blood vessel) lesions and some pigmented (brown sun-spot) lesions.

It is known as a pulse dye laser, and its wavelength is ideally suited for cherry angiomas and other small blood vessel lesions. It works by targeting hemoglobin in the blood, heating it up to a temperature that effectively cauterizes the small blood vessels from the inside out. It requires no anesthesia as there is little to no pain associated with the treatment.

The cherry angiomas will turn a dark gray color and then resolve like a bruise over the next one to two weeks, leaving no evidence of the angioma and no scarring. The Vbeam also allows for large areas and numerous cherry angiomas to be treated quickly and safely in a short period of time. 

My patient subsequently reported complete resolution of all of her cherry angiomas without scarring. She noted a minor amount of itching during and for a few minutes after the procedure but otherwise had no discomfort associated with the treatment. 

If you are tired of your red moles, please give my office a call at 435-628-6466 to schedule an evaluation. 

Written by BEN CARTER, MD, Riverside Medical Arts.

This article was first published in St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

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