Dr. Lam performs careful mole removal based on the type of mole one has. If the mole is relatively flat and not very unsightly, he may elect to cauterize it off to minimize the cost and recovery compared to a surgically incised mole removal. However, if the mole is elevated and/or unsightly, he may excise the mole to ensure that it is properly eradicated since cautery can lead to recurrence. As seen in the Figure, elevated moles have a portion that remains under the skin that will lead to recurrence if not excised, so cauterization of raised moles most oftentimes fails.
Skin tags are extremely common small tissue growths on the skin’s surface. Up to half of all people may get one at more at some point in their lifetime. Most often, skin tags are harmless, painless, and don’t grow or change. While you can find them all over your body, skin tags often form on areas of the body subject to rubbing. You are most likely to find them on the neck, armpits, trunk and in body folds. (1)
First, the good news: Skin tags are benign and cause no symptoms. These harmless growths of skin can be right on the skin surface or seem to sprout from a thin stalk of skin and hang off the body. Also called cutaneous tags, soft fibromas, acrochordons, and fibroepithelial polyps, skin tags are mostly flesh-colored growths, although some may be darker in color.
“My preferred method is snip excision (cutting off the skin tag base with sterile surgical scissors) and cautery of the base to help stop bleeding and reduces the chance of regrowth,” says Dr Yip. “This method allows multiple skin tags to be removed in the one session and is usually scarless. Extensive treatment may need local anaesthetic. Other methods used by dermatologists include cryotherapy (freezing), surgical excision and ablative laser.”
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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.
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.”
Burning the skin tag. If cutting or freezing the tag off isn’t an option, the dermatologist may burn the skin tag off. The skin tag and surrounding area will be cleaned. The doctor then uses a small piece of wire that is heated with an electrical current to burn the stalk of the tag. The heat will help prevent the skin tag from bleeding. The tag should fall off following the procedure.
Wow! I was very skeptical about an oil being able to "remove" a mole, but thought, what do I have to lose? Boy was I proven wrong. My mole was about the size of a pencil eraser located on the back of my neck along my hairline. People thought I had a bug on my neck and it was embarrassing. I used the H-Moles Formula 3 times a day for about a month and really saw no results, but kept using it. I am so glad that I did. In another two weeks it was literally peeling off! I was ecstatic! It completely got rid of it. No pain, no scar, nothing. It was completely gone. I ordered more for a few more moles that my doctor said were questionable and to date have had both of them disappear! Wonderful product! Wonderful results! Wonderful company!! Thank you so much.
And here’s an interesting tidbit to know: “In typical practice, every single mole that is removed is also examined under the microscope, so often we may use the terms ‘mole removal’ and ‘biopsy’ interchangeably,” Jules Lipoff, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Even if a patient is having a mole removed ostensibly for cosmetic reasons, it is prudent to evaluate the pathology regardless,” he explains. “We wouldn’t want to miss something.”
Make an appointment with a dermatologist. Going about mole removal the safe way is a decision you won't regret. It's extremely important to have your mole examined by a professional rather than trying to remove it yourself, even if you just want it removed for cosmetic reasons. When you see a physician, he or she will be able to tell whether the mole is potentially cancerous. If it is, professional removal is the only safe method, since other methods won't adequately deal with the cancer cells.
What are some clear signs you should ask your dermatologist whether or not a mole needs a biopsy? If your mole is asymmetrical, has an irregular border, contains different colors, has a diameter larger than a pencil eraser, or is evolving in some way, you should mention it to your doctor. These are known as the ABCDEs of melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, because they signify when a mole may be cancerous.
As mentioned above, skin tags have their own blood supply, and you should not attempt to cut, burn, tie, or freeze skin tags at home. And, please, do not apply duct tape to your skin. The risk of infection and scarring with these types of removal tactics is high. Take the time to learn how to remove skin tags safely with the natural treatments suggested below.
Essential oils contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help remove skin tags naturally. One solution that's becoming popular is the use of tea tree oil, which is a potent product derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree from Australia.19 This plant has been studied extensively, with research pointing out that it can help fight bacteria,20 fungi21 and viruses.22 Furthermore, other experts note that tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory properties.23,24,25
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A skin tag, or acrochordon (pl. acrochorda), is a small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases (or rubs together), such as the neck, armpit and groin. They may also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. Perianal skin tags can be associated with Crohn's disease. Acrochorda are generally harmless and painless and usually do not grow or change over time. Though tags up to a half-inch long have been seen, they are typically the size of a grain of rice. The surface of an acrochordon may be smooth or irregular in appearance and is often raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. Microscopically, an acrochordon consists of a fibrovascular core, sometimes also with fat cells, covered by an unremarkable epidermis. However, tags may become irritated by shaving, clothing, jewellery or eczema.
Your dermatologist may become concerned if one of your moles has changed shape or color, as this may be an indicator of skin cancer. Most moles are less than a ¼-inch in size, so any mole that is larger should be checked by your doctor. Identifying and treating skin cancers early helps avoid spreading of the cancerous cells to other parts of the body. Uncommon moles, also called dysplastic nevi, may:
Dysplastic nevi are moles that are generally larger than average (larger than a pencil eraser) and irregular in shape. They tend to have uneven color with dark brown centers and lighter, uneven edges. These nevi are somewhat more likely to become melanoma. In fact, people who have 10 or more dysplastic nevi have a 12 times higher chance of developing melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. Any changes in a mole should be checked by a dermatologist to evaluate for skin cancer.
Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women. Tags are essentially harmless and do not have to be treated unless they are bothersome. Skin tags that are bothersome may be easily removed during or after pregnancy, typically by a dermatologist.
Other skin conditions such as warts and moles can resemble skin tags. Since some moles may be cancerous, it’s best to have your skin tags examined by a doctor. Your dermatologist or family doctor will be able to diagnose skin tags. They’ll likely do this through a visual exam. If they have any doubt about the diagnosis, they may also perform a biopsy.