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.
One final cost is pathology to determine if the mole is cancerous or precancerous. This isn't usually necessary if the mole has been there a very long time. If the mole is new, has changed recently, or has other suspicious features like bleeding, your health insurance should cover the cost of removal and pathology. If you don't have insurance or if you prefer to have a mole sent even when it's being removed for purely cosmetic reasons, then pathology will cost an additional $125-200.
Rub on aloe vera. You can either snip off a piece of an aloe vera plant or squeeze it to get the gel or you can purchase a bottle of aloe vera gel at a store. Get a cotton swab and dip it in the gel. Wipe it on your tag as often as you like. This method relies on the natural curative properties of aloe vera and its effectiveness is hit or miss.
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.
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My skin tags, of course — like the skin tags of millions of people — were fine. They didn’t irritate or bother me, though some doctors mentioned them getting twisted in necklace or irritated by rubbing on clothing. When that happens, or for cosmetic reasons, skin tags are easily removed. “There are several methods of removal — clip them with sharp scissors; freeze them with liquid nitrogen; or burn them off with heat,” meaning cauterize them, Dr. Besser says. (All of this should be performed by a medical professional, not at home.)
After-care is vital to achieve excellent outcomes. Dr. Lam does not charge extra for this care but believes it is important for you to return several times throughout the year to ensure proper healing. It may be only 1 to 2 times but typically 4 to 6 times over a year about every 1 to 2 months depending on how the wound heals. Dr. Lam uses KTP laser (no downtime) to manage any raised or red scars and injectable scar dissolvers also as needed. He may also further refine the incision with dermabrasion or micro silicone injections to ultimately finesse the result, again only as needed and without charge.
Make a dermatologist appointment. The majority of skin tags are harmless, but it is best to talk with a dermatologist if you notice that the tag is darker than your skin color, large in size, or unusual in shape. If you remove the tag without consulting a professional you could lose valuable time in the event that it is a sign of a larger problem.