It’s not quite a mole, pretty sure it’s not a wart. What on earth are those fleshy little bumps hanging off your skin? Allow us to introduce you to your skin tags. Don’t freak out - they are completely harmless. Just more of an annoyance than anything. And while there’s no need to rush off and get them removed (we repeat, they are not a medical emergency), we get that you’d rather not have them in your life. In which case, this is what you can do - and everything else you need to know about these weird and not-so-wonderful things called skin tags.
The location and size of a mole may cause cosmetic concerns, as well as physical irritation. For instance, if a mole exists on a certain part of the neck, it may become caught in a necklace, causing discomfort and sometimes bleeding. We think these are good reasons to seek cosmetic mole removal, and we are happy to help you feel more comfortable and more satisfied with your appearance. More than just removing moles for cosmetic reasons, our team ensures that we evaluate all moles before removal to rule out abnormalities that may indicate skin cancer.
Skin tags, medically termed as acrochordons or fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), are just a tiny benign bit of flesh that is typically connected to the underlying skin by a thin stalk. Yeah, gross. On the exterior, they look like minuscule bits of “hanging” skin that are typically taller than wide. These growths are seen in approximately half of all people and can form for a variety of reasons. However, they turn up more often during pregnancy, in diabetics, obese individuals, and those that have a family history of skin tags. They are also more common as you age—and men and women suffer them at about the same rate.
Many people who develop skin tags simply choose to leave them alone. If, however, you find a skin tag unsightly or find that it’s becoming irritated by shaving or rubbing on clothing or jewelry, you can have it removed by a doctor. The two most common methods are cryotherapy, in which the tag is taken off using a freezing solution, or cauterization, in which the tag is burned off. There are also home kits available (similar to wart removal kits), but they may only be appropriate for certain small tags. Consult your healthcare provider for advice, especially if the tag is large (in which case a biopsy may be taken), or it is near your eye.
There are a few ways that moles may be removed to create a more attractive appearance. When the growth is superficial and raised, we may perform a shave excision. Comfort is a priority, and we achieve this with the use of local anesthetic before mole removal procedures. The shave technique involves a transverse incision that “shaves” the growth from the skin's surface. In many cases, this results in healing into a barely perceptible scar.
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.
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.
Doctors remove many moles every day, but there is always one recurring theme that dermatologists tell people: Be aware of your body and any moles that have changed over time. This is especially true for moles that are dark or flat. Invariably, people will see doctors and be extremely concerned about raised, lightly colored moles, but they are not concerned about the dark, black melanoma (skin cancer) next to the mole. This is truly important.
Skin tags are usually harmless, so treatment isn’t necessary unless the lesion causes irritation. Although home remedies and over-the-counter products are effective, inexpensive solutions, see a doctor if a skin tag doesn't respond to home treatment, bleeds, or continues to grow. Several procedures can successfully remove a skin tag with minimal pain and scarring.
What causes vaginal skin tags? Skin tags are common, harmless skin growths. They can appear all over the body, including near the vagina. In this article, we examine the possible causes of vaginal skin tags and what can be done to remove them. We also look at how to tell the difference between skin tags and genital warts, and when to see a doctor. Read now