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.”
Most importantly, don’t take it upon yourself to decide that a growth is benign. At your dermatologist’s office, you’ll have a better shot at getting a solid read on what you have—and whether it’s an issue. And if you want it removed, most doctors will perform removal by freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery), cautery with an electric current (electrosurgery), or cutting with medical scissors (snip excision).
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.
Then, your doctor will clean the surface of your skin, usually with an alcohol pad, and inject the area with local anesthesia like lidocaine, Dr. Lipoff says. “This should be the only part with any discomfort,” he adds. “There may be a pinch and a burn.” After that, the anesthesia should kick in, and your mole plus the surrounding area should be nice and numb.
With smaller nevi, the growth is cut or ‘shaved’ off flush with the skin with a scalpel or surgical scissors,while larger moles may require cutting out and stitching of wound edges. Very large nevi may call for gradual removal, in which case your physician will remove a little more at each appointment until the entire growth is removed. This is a more serious procedure, calling for a skin graft from another part of the body.
If the procedure is for cosmetic purposes, then it is unlikely that insurance will pay for the costs. Most cosmetic procedures are not valid for insurance coverage. If the mole is diagnosed as cancerous, insurance will most likely cover the removal. As soon as the mole is evaluated by the doctor, we will verify insurance to make certain of any coverage that may exist.
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And I was getting them exactly where I was expected to. Michele Farber, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, says they can happen anywhere, but “they are normally on the neck, underarms, [and] underneath the breasts and the groin folds.” Cynthia Abbott, MD, who works with Dermatology Affiliates in Marietta, Georgia, says that while “skin tags are an outgrowth of skin most commonly occurring due to constant rubbing and irritation,” that they “can form anywhere, but the waistline, underarms, groin, neck, and other areas of friction with necklaces and clothes are the most common locations.”
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.”
At Florida Skin Center, we specialize in a number of techniques that enable patients to achieve safe, effective mole removal. First, we offer a skin biopsy. This removes cells or skin samples from the surface of the body, which are examined to provide additional information about your medical condition or to remove an unwanted or suspicious lesion. Topical anesthetic is applied to the area before the biopsy to minimalize any discomfort during the procedure. Finally, we also offer excision mole removal, which involves cutting the mole off of the skin. At Florida Skin Center, these procedures can be performed the same day as your appointment, for your convenience.