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Moles can be removed a number of ways, most commonly by numbing the area and then shaving them off or cutting them out and closing the area with stiches. The method of removal is determined by a number of factors including appearance, size, location, and type of mole. For example, if a mole is just bothersome because it is raised, shaving it flat is usually the best approach. Similarly, if a mole is abnormal appearing and small, it also is typically shaved. Conversely, moles that are growing irritated hairs are usually best treated with complete removal and closure with stiches. Moles can grow back after shaving (and occasionally even after removing and closing area with stiches).
There are a few methods that can be used in removing a mole. Factors such as depth, size and location will help determine the most effective removal method. Moles that are flush to the skin may be able to be removed using a simple shaving technique or a laser treatment. For deep-seated moles, excision is the only way to remove it safely and effectively. During this process, the doctor will cut away the mole along with a small border of skin that surrounds it. Sutures are placed deep within the excision so that a clean, thin scar will be all that remains.
Skin tags are benign skin growths that often look like small balls dangling from the skin. Medically speaking, skin tags are completely harmless. However they often pose a cosmetic concern as they can appear on areas like the eyelids, upper chest, buttocks, groin, neck, and arm pits. Skin tags can vary in number from a single tag to a cluster of hundreds.
If the skin tag is very small, the first thing Geraghty does is spray the bump with cold liquid nitrogen, a non-toxic substance. It's sprayed out of a can and is approximately -320 degrees Fahrenheit. “We direct this very cold spray of gas onto the spot for a few seconds, then we take a break and then we do a few seconds more and usually that’s enough to make the skin tag fall off within a few days,” said Geraghty.
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.
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.
Susan Besser, MD, a family medicine specialist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, says that if skin tags “get large, change color, or become infected or ulcerated, you need to see your doctor. In those cases, it may not be a simple skin tag and further evaluation is needed.” By and large, Todd Minars, MD, of MINARS Dermatology in Hollywood, Florida, states, “Skin tags are harmless. If they do not bother you, then there is no need to treat them.”
The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only and is the property of the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician - patient relationship. If you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease, please consult a dermatologist. Any use, re-creation, dissemination, forwarding or copying of this information is strictly prohibited unless expressed written permission is given by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
Back in the 1980s, there was some speculation that skin tags were more common in people who went on to develop colon polyps or colon cancer. Subsequent research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, however, found no association. That means people with skin tags had no greater chance of developing colon polyps or cancer. The authors concluded skin tags should not be used as a reason for more intensive screening.
"When people come to me in situations like these, I will just numb the area up, snip it off and burn the base. It's a quick, easy way to just get them off so their skin can focus on healing. If the lesion is sort of half-dead and half-alive (after self-surgery gone awry), there's going to be a lot of pain and continued inflammation without the bump even going away."
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.