Mr Omar Tillo
Consultant Plastic Surgeon
What is a skin tag, wart, cyst or mole?
Skin tags: these are generally the same colour as your skin or brown. They hang off your skin and look somewhat similar to moles. Skin tags are harmless.
Warts: while slightly similar to skin tags, warts will have a rougher surface, and will be more solid against the surface of the skin, rather than hanging off. Warts are able to be spread and can continue to grow across the body.
Cyst: this is a bump full of fluid which is just beneath the skin. While cysts are normally considered harmless if you are worried it is important to check it with your GP.
Moles: moles generally appear in various shades of brown and are harmless skin growths. Moles are important to monitor, as they can often be dangerous if they change colour, size or bleed. If you are concerned, visit your GP.
Many people wish to have skin tags, warts, cysts and moles removed to improve their body image and aesthetics, or to reduce any irritation. There are both non-surgical and surgical options for the removal of skin lesions.
Anyone who has a skin lesion, whether that be a skin tag, wart, cyst, mole or lipoma, is a good candidate for skin lesion removal.
There are two non-surgical options for removing skin lesions – cryotherapy and curettage and cautery.
Cryotherapy involves freezing the skin tag or wart. The cells within the skin lesion are frozen, resulting in the blood supply being cut off. After the cryotherapy, you will notice a blister will form, which will then scab and naturally fall off. This process should take between 7 to 10 days.
Cryotherapy only takes around 5 to 10 minutes to complete. It is a suitable method if you have multiple skin lesions you are wanting to be removed. As it involves freezing the skin, you may experience some minor pain or discomfort during the process.
Surgeons at Centre for Surgery are trained to do cryotherapy. It is important you go to someone who is qualified, as your skin may end up damaged if the process is performed by someone unqualified.
Curettage and cautery
If a skin lesion does not respond to cryotherapy, the next step is curettage and cautery.
Your surgeon will use a curette to remove the growth before sealing the wound (known as cauterised) through the application of heat.
You will receive a local anaesthetic prior to this procedure, as to avoid experiencing any pain throughout the curettage and cautery.
After the procedure, the wound is generally left open. This wound will fade within two to three weeks.
When the skin lesion is too large for non-surgical options such as cryotherapy or curettage and cautery, surgical options will be considered. This is more common for the removal of cysts and moles. Skin tags and warts can usually be removed non-surgically, however, surgical options may sometimes be the best solution.
Any surgical removal of skin lesions is performed under a local anaesthetic.
Surgery will involve cutting the skin lesion off with a scalpel, knife, razor or scissors. In some instances, the growth will be sent to a lab for testing. You will receive these results within one week of surgery.
Centre for Surgery uses modern techniques to ensure there is minimal scarring after surgery.
If you have undergone one of the non-surgical procedures, you will have no recovery period. You will be able to return home or to work directly after the procedure.
If you need a surgical removal, you will be given a local anaesthetic. You will be able to return home one the effects of the anaesthetic have passed. You may notice some scarring, however, our surgeons will ensure this scarring is as small as possible.
Skin tags or warts can generally be removed by cryotherapy or curettage and cautery.
If you are having cryotherapy, you may feel some slight pain and discomfort, as it involves freezing your skin.
If you are having curettage and cautery or any surgical options, you will be given a local anaesthetic, so you will not feel any pain during the removal.
If you have surgical removal, you may have a light scar which will fade over time.
This will mostly occur with mole removal. Suspicious moles will be sent to a lab for testing, and you should get the results back in a week.