As noted above, it is possible to remove a mole by "shaving" it off. Shaving a mole offers the advantage of not having sutures, but has the clear disadvantage that if the mole extends beneath the surface of the skin, as most do, it will predictably grow back, usually within weeks of being shaved off. It is for this reason that Dr. Rapaport usually does not recommend shaving off moles. Many patients who go to a dermatologist complaining of moles will end up having the moles shaved, because many dermatologists are not comfortable with performing excisions and fine suture closure. Many dermatologists deal with these moles by performing what is called a “deep shave.” This means that the lesion is essentially “scooped out,” with the shave extending lower than the surface of the skin. While this is more likely than a flat shave to remove the entire mole, the resulting scar is generally quite unfavorable, appearing as an indentation in the skin, much like a chicken pox scar. Dr. Rapaport does not perform deep shaves for the reasons noted above.
Skin tags, formally known as acrochordons, are small pieces of flesh that protrude from your skin. They’re attached through a stem or stalk. Skin tags are most commonly found in folds of skin around your neck, armpits, and groin area, and usually appear in people of middle age. While these growths aren’t painful, daily movement can produce friction, which may irritate them.
"If the skin tags are a little bigger or they have more of a thicker stalk at the bottom, then I like to just do a miniature injection of lidocaine to numb the skin and just snip them right off with some very sharp sterile scissors. It only takes a second to do," says Geraghty. "Even with that method I usually do a little bit of cautery after to burn the base because these skin tags have their own blood vessel supply. Burning the base also puts a little scab on it."
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in skin cells called melanocytes and affects more than 53,600 people in the United States each year. These melanocytes can grow together to form benign moles which, after a change in size, shape, or color can be a sign of melanoma. Caused by sun exposure, early detection becomes extremely important to avoid a spread to other areas of the body. Diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the abnormal skin and treatment depends on the extent and characteristics of the patient. Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to various organs.
Congenital nevi are moles that are present at birth. Congenital nevi occur in about one in 100 people. These moles are slightly more likely to develop into melanoma (cancer) than are moles that appear after birth. A mole or freckle should be checked if it has a diameter of more than a pencil eraser or any characteristics of the ABCDEs of melanoma (see below).