skin tags on neck

Why Should You Consult a Skin Tag Removal Dermatologist?

Skin tags are common blemishes that do not pose serious health risks despite their persistence. But they may get irritated occasionally or make the affected sites look unappealing.  Some people are tempted to take them out on their own, but that may create a bigger problem rather than make things better.

Skin tags on neck

A skin tag removal dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in getting rid of this condition safely and effectively. In this article, we explain what skin tags are, their scientifically proven remedies and why you should leave them in the hands of a medical expert.

What Are Skin Tags?

A skin tag is a small, benign growth that attaches to the skin by a stalk of tissue. It may be the same color as the surrounding skin or darker. Most have a diameter of 0.5 to 2.5 millimeters, but rarely, they can grow to a size of 1-2 centimeters.

In medical lingo, a skin tag is also called “acrochordon,” “fibroepithelial polyp” or “soft fibroma.” Like raised acne scars, it has mostly fibrous connective tissue inside. Skin tags are not normally painful or itchy, but friction with jewelry or clothing may irritate or inflame them.

What Causes Skin Tags?

The cause of skin tag formation is not entirely clear. About half of adults develop at least one skin tag in their lifetime, so some experts believe it could be related to the loss of elasticity of aging skin. 

However, there are chronic health conditions strongly associated with the occurrence of skin tags. They include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Heart disease
  • Some genetic disorders, such as Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome and tuberous sclerosis
  • Infections, such as the wart virus HPV
  • Hormonal imbalance, e. g. estrogen, progesterone and growth hormone 

Various skin tissue growth factors are more active when these conditions are present, which may explain why patients who have them are acrochordon-prone.

What Are the Common Sites for Skin Tags?

Skin tags usually appear on skin fold areas, especially the eyelids, neck and armpits. Individuals with diabetes mellitus may develop large lesions in the groin and upper thighs. 

common skin tag locations
[Skin tags are often found in skin folds. Large lesions in the groin area and upper thighs are associated with diabetes mellitus.]

Are Skin Tags Anything to Worry About?

Skin tags are non-malignant and generally do not result in serious health issues. They are usually asymptomatic, but they may bleed or feel sore when they rub against clothing or other objects you put on your body. There is no immediate need to remove these benign skin growths, though most patients want them gone for cosmetic reasons or when they start to cause discomfort. 

When Should You Be Concerned Over a Skin Tag?

An acrochordon attaches to the skin by a thin stalk of tissue. Twisting or getting caught between objects can irritate it or make it bleed. These symptoms normally resolve in a few days, but you should seek medical help when you observe the following:

  • Continuous, excessive bleeding despite pressure
  • Pus, fever, and tenderness, which signify the onset of infection
  • Severe itchiness and other signs of allergy

On the other hand, the following blemishes may look like skin tags to the untrained eye: 

Some of them need urgent treatment, especially skin cancer. If you have a stubborn skin condition but are not sure what it is, you must consult your dermatologist about it. Suspicious lesions that bleed with minimal trauma, grow rapidly or develop abnormal pigmentation could be malignant and must be checked promptly.

Can You Safely Remove Skin Tags by Yourself?

Home remedies for skin tags have been making the rounds online in recent years. Freezing kits, tea tree oil, garlic and cutting with non-surgical tools are just a few examples.

There are several issues regarding the use of DIY skin tag treatments.

First is their safety. Many people with skin tags have illnesses that can make them vulnerable to infection, non-healing or uncontrollable bleeding after an injury. Patients without a medical background cannot assess their side effect risks reliably. So removal attempts without proper skin preparation can produce complications.

Second is the lack of scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness. Your costs can pile up when you use ineffective treatments for long periods.

Third is the danger of missing an early skin cancer diagnosis. As mentioned previously, some malignant skin lesions can mimic acrochordons. A timely Mohs surgery gives skin cancer patients the best survival odds and cosmetic results. The opposite is true if it is delayed.

So if you want to get rid of this problem worry-free, it’s best to hand it over to a board-certified dermatologist.

skin tag removal home remedy
Skin tag home remedies are either futile or unsafe. Trust only a skin care specialist to remove these growths.]

How Do Dermatologists Treat Skin Tags?

Dermatologists deal with skin tags using scientifically proven cosmetic surgery procedures. They include the following:

  • Simple excision

Your doctor may use surgical scissors or blades to cut out the skin lesion. Small skin tags normally do not require local anesthesia.

  • Cautery

Your dermatologist may also burn an acrochordon by passing electric or radiofrequency pulses on it. Ablative laser treatment, e. g. using the CO2 laser, is also an option. Cauterization can eliminate large or multiple skin tags efficiently, but pain management during the session is essential.

  • Cryosurgery

Freezing can also get rid of this skin condition. Numbing medication is usually not required.

No matter the technique used, doctors begin a surgical procedure by cleaning the target area with a medical-grade antiseptic. Doing so minimizes the risk of infection.

Skin tag surgery is quick. Treatments without anesthesia are usually done within minutes. Local anesthetics need time to set in, so procedures requiring pain control take a bit longer.

Generally, it takes only one session to cut out solitary masses, but multiple growths may require more.

The prognosis of this condition is excellent, but overweight patients may develop new lesions after recovery. Your doctor may advise you to start eating healthily and exercising to prevent skin tag recurrence, and more importantly, serious metabolic issues.

What Are the Side Effects of Skin Tag Removal Procedures?

The most common side effects of in-office skin tag treatments are mild discomfort, swelling, and redness, which are normal signs of inflammation. They resolve spontaneously after a few days, but sensitive patients may take acetaminophen and low-potency anti-inflammatory drugs for symptom control. 

Cosmetic surgery procedures have a small risk of complications, which include the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Skin infection
  • Allergy to the numbing medication
  • Pigmentation changes
  • Scarring
  • Painful nerve growths called “neuromas”
  • Worsening of appearance or lack of cosmetic improvement

But if done properly, the risk becomes insignificant. Choosing the right dermatologist to perform your skin tag removal is crucial because it helps you avoid unwanted side effects.

laser skin tag removal
[Skin Tag Laser Cautery]

How Long Does It Take to Heal from an In-Office Skin Tag Treatment?

The duration of the recovery period after skin tag removal depends on the lesion’s severity and location and your health status.

You may be advised to restrict your activities during the first few weeks after surgery to let yourself heal properly. Postop wounds generally close and scab within the first week. Re-epithelialization—the regrowth of superficial skin cells—follows and is complete by the second or third week. You may resume your usual after that, though changes beneath the skin surface will continue for months or years.

Extensive lesions take more time to heal than smaller ones. Younger patients generally recover faster than people of advanced age. Poor circulation, clotting function, immunity and blood sugar control inhibit skin repair processes and are all contraindications to surgery. 

The following measures can help speed up your recovery after an in-office skin tag treatment:

  • Proper postop wound care. The regimen typically includes cleaning with water and mild soap, applying petroleum jelly and changing the bandage daily.
  • Protecting the treated site from excessive sun exposure
  • Avoiding trauma and picking at the surgical wound
  • Taking the prescribed postop medications if there are any
  • Holding off harsh skin treatments in the first few weeks after your session, when the postop wound is still actively healing
  • Avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, which can slow down the skin’s repair mechanisms

Call your doctor for any problems that you think may be related to your surgery.

How Much Do Skin Tag Removal Procedures Cost?

In-office skin tag treatment costs vary widely, ranging from $100 to $500. Factors affecting the total costs include the following:

  • The size of the skin growth or area involved
  • The provider’s expertise
  • The surgical technique used
  • The treatment facility’s geographic location

Initial consultation fees are not included in this estimate, but they also differ significantly from doctor to doctor.

Skin tag removal is considered a cosmetic procedure. Health insurance will not pay for it unless complications like infection or severe bleeding are present. To avoid unnecessary costs, trust only a bona fide skin tag specialist to perform this treatment.

before and after skin tag removal
[Skin Tag Cryosurgery in an Elderly Patient.
The area has healed well three months after the last session.]

Because Skin Tag Removal Is Not as Simple as It Seems

In summary, skin tags are non-cancerous lumps attached to the skin surface by a stalk of tissue. They are typically asymptomatic, but traumatic contact may cause inflammation, bleeding or infection. The lesions are often treated for cosmetic reasons, though their formation is strongly linked to obesity, some hereditary disorders and other medical conditions.

Home remedies abound, which are neither effective nor safe. Meanwhile, dermatologists easily eliminate these blemishes using minimally invasive surgical techniques. Seeing a skin tag specialist ensures that you get the best outcomes from your treatment.

Finally, skin tag removal is considered a cosmetic procedure. So most cases are paid out of pocket. To get your money’s worth, don’t leave your skin care to chance. Entrust it only to a highly experienced, board-certified dermatologist.

Got Pesky Skin Tags? LA’s Finest Dermatologists Can Get Rid of Them Fast

Skin tags persist despite drug treatment. And snipping them on your own risks skin infection, bleeding and other complications. When DIY remedies are neither effective nor safe, it is best to leave a skin problem in the hands of a skilled dermatologist.

At BHSkin Dermatology, our skin tag removal specialists help countless patients restore their skin’s radiance everyday. Visit our Glendale or Encino office or use our telederm portal for your initial consultation.

Book your appointment today! 


Author: Don Mehrabi

Don Mehrabi, MD, FAAD, is LA’s leading board-certified dermatologist who treats patients, builds the BHSkin clinics, and raises three kids. This blog builds on medical studies combined with Dr. Mehrabi's first-hand experiences from practicing in Encino-Tarzana, Glendale, and online

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