Skin tag and benign lesion removal are one of the most common procedures we perform at Integrity Skin Clinic. One of the reasons we perform so many is because we have many different methods of removal and treat all skin types and colours safely and successfully.
Upon our initial consultation we assess the lesions you would like removed and evaluate relevant health conditions and medications. A quote will be provided up front. This quote and method of removal will be based on the amount of skin tags needing removal, the location of the skin tags, condition of the skin in the treatment area, heritage, and size of the skin tags.
A skin tag is a tiny, benign, outpouching of skin that is typically connected to the underlying skin by a thin stalk. Skin tags look like tiny bits of “hanging” skin and typically occur in sites where clothing rubs against the skin or where there is skin-to-skin friction, such as the underarms, neck, upper chest, and groin.
Skin tags are not generally present at birth, they appear and frequency increases with age. Skin tags can be observed in about 25% of adults. Studies have shown a genetic predisposition to the development of skin tags. Therefore, skin tags can run in families.
A skin tag is medically termed an acrochordon. Sometimes, other terms have been used to refer to skin tags. These include soft warts (although they do not represent true warts), soft fibromas, fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), fibroma pendula’s, and pedunculated fibroma.
What causes skin tags?
Skin tags are a common aesthetic complaint.
In many cases, skin tags are believed to develop due to friction between adjacent areas of skin or between clothing and skin.
Common areas of the body for skin tags include:
- The underarms
- Upper chest
- Under breasts
Because of the increased skin-to-skin contact and friction, skin tags are more common in overweight people. Although skin tags can sometimes be seen in children, they tend to increase with age and are most common in middle-aged and older individuals.
What are the symptoms of skin tags?
Skin tags are typically flesh-coloured or may appear brown in light-skinned people. They may be smooth or textured and range in size from very tiny (1 mm) to approximately the size of a grape. Although it is usually possible to recognize a stalk that attaches the skin tag to the underlying skin, very small skin tags may simply appear as raised bumps on the skin.
If a skin tag is twisted on its blood supply it may turn red or black. Skin tags may bleed if caught on clothing or are otherwise torn. Skin tags are not typically painful and are not associated with any particular skin conditions or symptoms. However, people who are prone to diabetes and have a skin condition called acanthosis nigricans often have associated skin tags, suggesting that factors which make one prone to diabetes may be operative in the development of skin tags.
When should I call a practitioner about skin tags?
Skin tags typically do not require medical treatment unless they are irritating to the patient or if removal for cosmetic reasons is contemplated.
How are skin tags diagnosed?
The diagnosis of skin tags is made by observation as skin tags usually have a very characteristic appearance.
Laboratory tests or other diagnostic studies are not required. However, your practitioner may recommend that a skin tag be excised and sent to a pathologist for microscopic diagnosis to rule out other conditions of the skin that appear similar in appearance to skin tags. Certain types of moles (nevi), benign skin growths (such as seborrheic keratosis), and warts can sometimes resemble skin tags. It is very rare for a skin cancer to resemble a skin tag. In this case, we will refer you to one of our specialist colleagues.
Treatment of skin tags is only indicated if they are disturbing to the patient. Treatment involves micro surgical removal of the skin tags.
What is the treatment for skin tags?
Removal of the skin tags by a practitioner is the established treatment for skin tags that are irritating or pose cosmetic problems.
What is micro surgery for skin tag removal?
Removal of skin tags can be accomplished by cutting with a scalpel, freezing with liquid nitrogen, plasma cautery, diathermy, RF or using electrocautery. Removal is performed in the skin clinic.
Local anaesthesia such as application of a topical anaesthesia cream, may be indicated before the removal of larger skin tags. Tiny skin tags can typically be removed without anaesthesia.
What are the next steps for skin tags treatment?
Removal of skin tags is curative, although the individual may develop more skin tags at a later time.
How can we prevent skin tags?
It is not possible to completely prevent the development of skin tags, although weight loss may be helpful in this regard.
What is the outlook for skin tags?
Skin tag removal is curative, but individuals who tend to develop skin tags will likely develop more over time. Further procedures may be necessary should removal of future skin tags be desired.