Moles, medically known as nevi (nevus, in singular), are benign conditions of the skin that can be raised or flat, pigmented or flesh colored. Mole removals should only be undertaken after considerable deliberation and thought. Since they oftentimes occur in highly conspicuous areas like the central face, the recovery following a mole removal may be several months before they are not immediately obvious to an observer that you had surgery. Mole removal techniques are graduated and adjusted depending on the type of mole, location of mole, and how unsightly it is aesthetically. Dr. Lam believes that excellent mole removal is predicated not only on superior surgery but also on meticulous and frequent follow-up care to ensure the incision heals well.
A biopsy usually involves taking cells or samples from the mole to be analyzed in a lab, according to the Mayo Clinic. Moles are usually just clusters of pigment cells called melanocytes, according to the Cleveland Clinic, but sometimes they can become cancerous. A biopsy helps determine if there is anything wrong with the mole, like melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Moles are the result of the accumulation of melanocytes, or pigmented cells, in a localized area. Referred to as nevi, moles come in all shapes, sizes, and a variety of colors. Some may be very light and barely noticeable, while others are red, brown, or black, making them difficult to disguise. Typically, moles are considered harmless growths. However, they may present cosmetic concerns depending on where they are.
Simply thinking about having a mole removed might send a few shivers down your spine, but sometimes it’s just necessary for your health, Gary Goldenberg, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells SELF. If, for example, you have a mole that your doctor suspects or has confirmed through a biopsy is cancerous, excising the mole can help to stop any cancer from potentially growing more. But people also have moles removed for cosmetic reasons or because they’re simply annoying, like if one falls just under your bra strap and always gets irritated, Dr. Goldenberg says.
While it is true that skin tags often show up in the armpit or neck creases, the skin-on-skin friction is not what’s to blame. Rather, it’s the creases and skin folds that produce a friendly environment for a virus that may cause some skin tags. According to Ben Johnson, MD, founder of holistic beauty brand Osmosis Skincare, “Viruses are much more commonly spread through contact than people realize, but they don’t find the skin an easy place to survive. Creases improve their chances, and on rare occasions, one makes it into the follicle and infects local skin DNA to create skin tags.”
Dermatologists say nay: The tags are almost never cancerous and don’t need to be removed; in fact, they’re (almost!) always benign. And while many people opt to remove them due to discomfort or for cosmetic reasons, there is no harm in leaving them be. There are extremely rare exceptions to this rule: In one study, two patients with known basal cell nevus syndrome (BCNS) were found to have multiple basal cell carcinomas that resembled ordinary skin tags. “There are rare cases where skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and even melanoma, can mimic a skin tag,” says dermatologist Avnee Shah, MD. “Going to a board-certified dermatologist assures a trained eye is examining the lesion and determining the risk of a more harmful condition masquerading as a skin tag.” To be safe, if any tag is growing, changing color, or bleeding and itching, it’s definitely time to see an expert. Find out 6 surprising signs of disease your skin can reveal.

There are two types of cauterization that can be applied, which are electrocautery and chemical cautery. You can guess from the names of them. Electrocautery is burning off skin tissue with a thin metal bar from the heat of electric current; whereas chemical cautery is the use of chemical reactions on the skin so that you can get rid of small lesions. However, due to its ability to affect surrounding areas of the wounds, chemical cauterization is not always recommended for removing skin tags.
The vast majority of moles are not dangerous. Moles that are more likely to be cancer are those that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear after age 25. If you notice changes in a mole's color, height, size, or shape, you should have a dermatologist (skin doctor) evaluate it. You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful.
A mole is a skin abnormality that develops when skin grows in a cluster instead of spreading out. These are usually dark, small patches of skin no larger than the size of an eraser head. Although they are most often harmless, some moles can develop into melanoma skin cancer. If you are concerned about a mole that may be cancerous, please refer to our skin cancer treatment page.
While they can turn up anywhere, skin tags tend to appear where there is frequent friction, such as the neck, breasts, groin, and underarms. Ultimately, there is no evidence that skin tags will lead to any serious skin condition: They’re mostly an aesthetic annoyance. Regardless, most dermatologists encourage you to have them checked out—and removed, if you want. The only link to danger is from one study from the Indian Journal of Dermatology, which suggested that skin tags may be a sign of underlying heart issues. You could get your heart checked out, but the one research connection shouldn’t concern anyone too much.
Soft, fleshy growths that hang from the skin are commonly referred to as skin tags. Acrochordons — as they are referred to within the medical community — are not cancerous. They are generally considered a cosmetic concern, not a medical issue. They rarely cause pain or discomfort. But many people find them unsightly and want to know how to remove skin tags. (1)
Skin tags are common, acquired benign skin growths that resemble a small, soft balloon suspended on a slender stalk. Skin tags are harmless growths that can vary in number from one to hundreds. Males and females are equally prone to developing skin tags. Obesity seems to be associated with skin tag development. Although some skin tags may fall off spontaneously, most persist once formed. The medical name for skin tag is acrochordon. Some people call them "skin tabs."
The vast majority of skin tags are benign tumours but one study of 1,335 lesions found that four were basal cell carcinomas and one was a squamous cell carcinoma. Nevertheless, the authors suggest that the malignancy potential of skin tags is low. Patients experience few, if any, problems with skin tags although pruritus and discomfort can occur if the lesions are snagged by jewellery.
The causes of skin tags are not entirely clear but their presence in skin fold areas suggests that friction or frequent irritation is a potential cause. The condition appears to have a genetic component (there is a tendency for skin tags to occur in families) but other potential causes include hormonal imbalances. For example, skin tags are associated with agromegaly, the growth hormone disorder.
Mole removal surgery and recovery generally is simple. If the depth of the mole merits an excision, stitches are used for closure and are left in for approximately one week. If the mole is superficial, it may be shaved, and no stitch will be required. In these cases, the mole removal site will form a scab that will fall off within a week. Once the scab comes off, the underling area is usually a pink or reddish color, which may take several weeks to blend in with the surrounding skin. Regardless of the technique used for mole removal, the area should be kept clean and protected from the sun with a high SPF.
Depending on where your skin tags are located, you might not choose any skin tag treatment — out of sight can lead to out of mind. However, you might want to seek skin tag treatment for cosmetic reasons if, for instance, they are on your eyelids and detract from your appearance. Another reason to have a skin tag removed is if it is on an area that gets a lot of friction, even just from wearing clothes, causing irritation and bleeding.
While they can turn up anywhere, skin tags tend to appear where there is frequent friction, such as the neck, breasts, groin, and underarms. Ultimately, there is no evidence that skin tags will lead to any serious skin condition: They’re mostly an aesthetic annoyance. Regardless, most dermatologists encourage you to have them checked out—and removed, if you want. The only link to danger is from one study from the Indian Journal of Dermatology, which suggested that skin tags may be a sign of underlying heart issues. You could get your heart checked out, but the one research connection shouldn’t concern anyone too much.
Recognize the benefits of professional medical care. It is very tempting to treat skin tags at home, but your doctor’s care offers some unique benefits. They will use sterile instruments to prevent infection. They will also rub on numbing cream to reduce your pain during and after the procedure. In addition, some of the methods, such as cauterization, are so advanced that they rarely leave a noticeable scar.[7]
Removing skin tags can be done easily in a dermatologist’s office. Most of the time, the appointment begins with the dermatologist inspecting the skin tag to be sure that it is only a benign skin tag. Likely, the dermatologist is also ruling out any signs of infection as well. After that the dermatologist will probably clean the area and use one of the following procedures to remove your skin tags:
Although skin tags are primarily a cosmetic problem, that doesn’t mean they’re not significant enough to consult a doctor. For starters, they can still bleed when they come off, so dermatologists stress never trying to cut or pull off a skin tag on your own. One theory on skin tag removal is that tying it off with dental floss will remove it—a bad idea, according to Tanya Kormeili, MD, “This may remove the small ones, but some of the bigger ones have a larger blood supply and may become very painful as you strangulate the skin tag. They are easily removed in the office by a dermatologist.”
Michelle Nguyen, a dermatologist and the director of Mohs micrographic surgery at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, tells Allure that what we call skin tags are really just benign skin lesions composed of normal skin tissue. New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner adds that skin tags, comprised of extra skin and fat, can happen to anyone. There is, however, a genetic component to them, and people whose parents had them are more likely to get them themselves.
Skin tags are thought to occur from skin rubbing up against skin, since they are so often found in skin creases and folds.[2] Studies have shown existence of low-risk HPV 6 and 11 in skin tags, hinting at a possible role in its pathogenesis.[4] Acrochorda have been reported to have a prevalence of 46% in the general population.[5] A causal genetic component is thought to exist.[6] They also are more common in women than in men. Acrochorda were once thought to be associated with colorectal polyps, but studies have shown no such connection exists.[7] Rarely, they can be associated with the Birt–Hogg–Dubé syndrome, acromegaly, and polycystic ovary syndrome.[8]
Insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, may also play a role in the development of skin tags. People with insulin resistance don’t absorb glucose effectively from the bloodstream. According to a 2010 study, the presence of multiple skin tags was associated with insulin resistance, a high body mass index, and high triglycerides.
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