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Skin Tag Removal

Portland Oregon

What Is A Skin Tag?

The medical name for a skin tag is acrochordon, which is a common, acquired benign skin growth, or bits of pigmented tissue that project from the surrounding skin from a small, narrow stalk (pedunculated). Some people call these growths "skin tags." These harmless growths that can vary in number from one to hundreds. They are not dangerous, although sometimes unsightly and bothersome. Although some skin tags may fall off spontaneously, most persist once formed.

What does a skin tag look like?

Skin tags look like tiny, soft balloons of hanging skin, either flesh-colored or darkly pigmented. Early on, skin tags may be as small as a flattened pinhead-sized bump. While most tags typically are small (2 mm-5 mm in diameter) at approximately one-third to one-half the size of a pencil eraser, some skin tags may become as large as a big grape (1 cm in diameter) or a fig (5 cm in diameter)

Where do skin tags appear?

They are usually found on the neck, chest, back, armpits, under the breasts or in the groin area, but can also grow on the eyelids and face. 

Who gets skin tags?

Males and females are equally prone to developing skin tags, however, they appear most often in women, especially with weight gain, pregnancy and in elderly people. More than half of the general population has reported to have skin tags at some time in their lives. They are much more common in middle age, and they tend to increase in prevalence up to age 60. Children and toddlers may also develop skin tags, particularly in the underarm and neck areas. 

What causes a skin tag? 

Although skin tags are generally acquired (not present at birth) and may occur in anyone, more often they arise in adulthood. Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags and are more common in overweight people, mostly in areas where skin touches skin. There also seems to be a prevailance in patients who are predisposed to have high blood fats and sugar, such as with diabetics.

Should I have them removed?

Skin tags usually don't cause any pain and are not harmful (cancerous), however, they can become irritated if anything rubs against them, such as clothing or jewelry. Some people have them removed for cosmetic reasons, especially in cases with a large number presenting in visible areas as with the neck.

Should I worry about shaving it off?

No. Skin tags are frequently and inadvertently shaved off while removing hair from the armpit either with a razor or by waxing. There is typically no harm done when small skin tags are removed by shaving, although some bleeding may occur. Sometimes, even a small skin tag base may bleed for a while and require constant applied pressure for 10-15 minutes to stop bleeding. Infection is a rare possible complication of accidentally shaving off skin tags, which can be avoided by applying an antibiotic ointment immediately afterward. All in all, shaving off a skin tag is not recommended and usually is not a permanent removal method. 

Are there creams that remove skin tags?

There are currently no medically approved creams for the removal of skin tags. It is not advisable to use unapproved products like Dermasil, wart removers, tea tree oil, nail polish, toothpaste or hair-removal creams like Neet or Nair. Trial uses of unapproved creams may cause irritation and possible secondary complications.

How are skin tags treated?

Most dermatologists will remove a skin tag by cutting it off with a scalpel or scissors, freezing it off, or with electric cautery or electro-desiccation (burning it off with an electric current). Possible risks with freezing or burning include skin discoloration and scars, need for repeat treatment(s), and failure for the tag to fall off.


There are also home remedies and self-treatments, including tying off the small tag stalk with a piece of thread or dental floss and allowing the tag to fall off over several days. This cuts off the blood flow and causes the tag to become necrotic (dead cell tissue). This is inconvenient and unsightly for most people.


Dr. Gillaspie uses the the CryoProbe,  a unique, precision instrument that delivers a fine, pin-point spray of pressurized liquid nitrous oxide. This more effective, non-toxic combination of freezing temperature and pressurization helps remove the skin tag without cutting, bleeding, or the need for sutures. Usually, small tags may be removed easily without anesthesia, while larger growths may require some local anesthesia (injected Lidocaine) prior to removal. Application of a topical anesthesia cream prior to the procedure may be desirable in areas where there are a large number of tags.


Will they come back or multiply?

There is no evidence that removing skin tags causes more to grow. Rather, there are some people who may be more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically, especially overweight individuals. Some patients even require periodic removal of tags at annual or quarterly intervals. However, it is unlikely they will return once treated with the Cryoprobe. The site of your former skin tag will be reevaluated at your follow-up exam within a six week period.  

Skin Tag
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