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What can a doctor do for skin tags?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

A dermatologist removes a skin tag in one of three ways: By surgically snipping it off, burning it off with electrocauterization (if the tag is tiny), or freezing it off with liquid nitrogen. Doctors usually choose the first method. First they inject a local anesthetic at the base of the skin tag; then use forceps and scissors to remove it. Because there's usually a blood vessel inside the skin tag, it can bleed more than you would think when it's removed. And because nerves are contained in the skin tag, excision is painful and the injection of lidocaine is essential. All three of these methods leave a scab that heals within a week or two. I have patients who come in once every year or two to get their skin tags cleaned up. After excision, doctors routinely send larger skin tags to the pathology lab to check for melanoma, although the chance of malignancy is extremely rare.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Most skin tags are harmless and can be left alone, but if you have one that is bothersome, your doctor or dermatologist can safely remove it. He or she can freeze or burn it off, or quickly remove it with special scissors or a surgical razor. All of these procedures can be done in your doctor's office. None of them should hurt, but if the skin tag is large, your doctor may numb the area first.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.