Laser surgery is now a common procedure for many health conditions, and it is one of the fastest and most effective options available for skin tag removal.
More often than not, skin tags are simply a cosmetic problem. They can be unsightly especially when they appear in clusters and/or in a highly visible area, such as the neck or face. They can also be bothersome if they frequently get snagged on or rubbed against clothing or jewelry, either of which also makes them more prone to irritation. Laser skin tag removal is a safe and quick solution to these problems.
Skin tags are tiny folds or pockets of flesh that are attached to the skin by a thin stalk. They are benign growths and their removal, therefore, is not a medical necessity. Infection is a rare occurrence; when it does happen, a doctor may order a biopsy to test the tissue and rule out cancer. Skin tag removal through surgery may also be recommended.
Common explanations for why skin tags appear include genetics – if you have a family history of skin tags; friction, from skin-to-skin rubbing or skin rubbing against clothing or accessories; hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy; and being overweight or obese. Areas where skin tags typically grow are the eyelids, neck, underarms, buttocks, and genitals.
There are other medical options aside from laser removal. Some over-the-counter products and home remedies are likewise available, safe, and effective. Read on to learn more about how laser skin tag removal works.
How does it work?
Laser skin tag removal is a minimal, outpatient surgical procedure. Your doctor will use a mild anaesthetic so you don’t have to worry about pain; you will be awake throughout the procedure. The treatment works by “burning” off the skin tag.
The treatment will last between 15 and 20 minutes, per skin tag. It could be longer if the growth is located somewhere that is more difficult to reach. There is no bleeding, and unless the skin tag that was removed was bigger than normal, there is zero chance of scarring. The worst that you can expect to experience some mild discomfort after the procedure.
Typically, patients only require one treatment. And most people can go back to their normal activities soon after the procedure. Some may require some time to recover, especially if multiple skin tags were removed and/or sensitive areas were treated.
Is laser treatment for everyone?
There are several factors to consider before choosing laser treatment. Of course, your doctor’s recommendation is one of them and this will only be given after proper evaluation of your skin tag and overall health.
Laser treatment is highly effective, so much so that most patients only require a single treatment. It is quick and efficient; it does not cause damage to the surrounding, healthy skin; there is zero pain and bleeding; and it does not cause scarring. Once removed, the skin will not grow back. But if you are prone to skin tags, you can expect a new one to appear around the same area/s.
The eyelids and the area around the eyes are, of course, not safe for laser treatment. If you have diabetes, your doctor might recommend a different removal option depending on your overall condition.
With regards to cost, the price per treatment/per skin tag is relatively fair considering the value you get. The average cost is $150 to remove one skin tag or a small and tight cluster. If you have multiple skin tags, laser treatment might prove too costly unless, of course, you’re willing to get separate treatments over the course of several months so it will work better for you budget-wise. Given the benefits, laser skin tag removal is definitely worth the cost.
But do you due diligence and shop around to compare costs. You should be wary, however, of facilities that charge too low, as this makes the quality of their services questionable.
What about insurance coverage?
Unless the skin tag removal is medically necessary, i.e. it is infected, it is considered a cosmetic procedure and, therefore, is not covered by health insurance.
Many dermatological clinics, private ones in particular, offer payment plans and treatment packages for conditions that require repeat treatments. Don’t hesitate to ask about these.
Other Medical Alternatives
Laser removal is one of the treatments that is highly recommended by dermatologists. Cryotherapy and surgical excision are also popular options.
This involves flash-freezing the skin tag with the help of liquid nitrogen. Similar to laser treatment, it works by immediately breaking down the cells/destroying skin tag tissue.
The procedure involves cutting off the skin tag at its base using a scalpel. It is relatively painless and quick, but there is usually some bleeding and there is a risk of scarring, depending on the size of the excised skin tag.
Discuss with your doctor all the options available to you, and ask about their different benefits and risks so you can choose the most appropriate removal method based on your preferences and budget.
Alternative Skin Tag Removal Options
There are a number of alternative skin tag removal options that are just as safe and effective as medical treatments. These take longer to work, however; and if not done properly, some may increase the risk for infection and scarring.
These methods work mainly by cutting off blood and oxygen supply to the skin tag, thereby “killing” it. Over time, the skin tag will dry out, turn black or scab over, and then fall off on its own. The treatments often require repeat applications in a day, every day, and take weeks or months to work.
These alternative treatments include:
- Over-the-counter skin tag cream products
- Over-the-counter freeze sprays
- Tea tree oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Ligation with skin tag bands or a piece of floss or string
Healing and Aftercare
Healing and recovery after laser skin tag removal is usually quick and painless. For most people, the treated area completely heals 3-5 days after laser treatment.
You will be prescribed an antibiotic cream by your doctor to further ensure that you will not get an infection. You should also receive post-treatment instructions to keep your skin safe while it heals. You may have to keep the treated area covered for the first day or two. The skin should always be kept dry and should not be exposed to UV rays. It is also advised to wear loose clothing so as not to irritate the still-sensitive skin.
Some redness and/or mild irritation during the first 24 hours after treatment is normal. If it does not go away in a few days, you should visit your dermatologist to make sure it isn’t infected. Again, laser skin tag surgery does not cause scarring.
If the skin tag does not immediately fall off after laser treatment, it will probably take a few days to do so. In the meantime, it will scab over as it “dies.” Do not pull it off or pick at it. You must allow it to fall off on its own.
The removed skin tag typically will not grow back; but if you are prone to skin tags, a new one may grow in the same area. Talk to your doctor about this possibility and what you can do to prevent it or minimize your risk.
Is this cosmetic problem preventable?
Skin tags oftentimes become a cosmetic annoyance as they can affect how you look. The condition is easily treatable, but is it also preventable?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. This is mostly because the exact cause of skin tags or, more specifically, what exactly triggers their growth is yet to be determined by scientists. But knowing the risk factors can help minimize your likelihood of getting them.
Having a healthy diet, particularly one that is rich in nutrients that benefit the skin, is always an advantage. Because overweight/obese people are more likely to develop skin tags, staying fit is one way to reduce your risk. You should also avoid frequently wearing clothing that is too tight, as friction is another known risk factor; the same goes for jewelry. Having a skin care routine that is appropriate for your specific skin type also helps. Regular visits to a dermatologist for check-ups and/or skin maintenance treatments are a good idea, as well.
Should you get laser treatment for your skin tag?
Unless it is medically necessary, skin tag removal is a personal choice. If you are looking for a quick, safe, and effective treatment option, and you have the budget for it, laser skin tag removal is a great way to go. It is pain-free and has no risk of infection or scarring. There may be mild discomfort, and you may need a few days to completely heal, but laser treatment typically does not interfere with daily activities. Recovery and aftercare are fairly straightforward.
Speak with a dermatologist or skin care specialist about laser skin tag removal if you are considering it as an option. The more you know about the treatment, the easier it will be for you to figure out if it is the right option for you.