Skin tags are harmless, benign growths that can occur almost anywhere on the body. The most common sites to find them are the neck, underarms, groin, and bust line. It is thought that they are caused form friction or skin on skin rubbing. Overweight and obese individuals are more likely to have a higher of these growths. These skin tags are typically small, flesh colored, raised, and the base is a stalk. There is a blood supply feeding these so they can grow larger in size. Due to the common locations that they develop in, it is possible that they can be caught on clothing, jewelry, or towels. Sometimes skin tags can be so irritated that they are strangulated and can fall off on their own. Women have reported accidentally cutting them off, especially from the underarm region during shaving.
The benign nature of skin tags makes removal more of a desire rather than a necessity. Whether they are bothersome because of their appearance or they are a nuisance when wearing certain necklaces, removal is an option. There are a few different ways to remove these pesky lesions and it is recommended to have the procedure done in a medical setting. Currently, there is no approved cream or solution to get rid of skin tags. Considered a cosmetic removal, insurance companies are not likely to pay for the procedure and most medical offices charge a small cosmetic fee. When a patient inquires about skin tags being removed, the different options are discussed, which include; scissor snip removal, cryotherapy and electrocautery. Many years ago, it was common in practice to tie a suture or thread around the skin tags to cut off the blood supply and in a few days it would fall off. Although this is the least traumatic method, most people opt for another treatment. Local or topical anesthetic can be used for larger tags, but often not necessary even during the snip removal because it is only a small pinch that is felt. A very small amount of bleeding is common when skin tags are removed and it easily stopped with a topical solution. Scaring potential is minimal and results are seen immediately. Cryothereapy involves spraying all skin tags with liquid nitrogen. It is so cold it can sting and the skin tag will eventually scab up and fall off over a few short days. Skin discoloration can be seen with the skin tags treatment. Electrocautery is when the lesion is actually burned with a cauterizing machine. A scab develops and also takes a few days to fall off. Most people opt for use of local anesthetic during this type of removal.
When removing benign growths, including skin tags, it is not necessary to send the specimen off to the lab for evaluation. However, it is possible that there are any suspicious characteristics seen in the otherwise harmless lesions, your provider might recommend sending for microscopic evaluation to ensure there are no abnormal cells. If you are interested in having any skin tags removed make sure to discuss with you dermatologist at your next visit.
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