Skin tag surgery is typically a very simple procedure. Special scissors or scalpels are used to remove larger tags. In the vast majority of cases, skin tag surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis. The potential risks and complications are minimal and typically limited to a chance of minor scarring and the potential for infection if the surgical wound is not cared for properly.
A large number of people have skin tags. They are especially common as people age and are somewhat more common among people who are overweight. Some occur by random chance, while others are caused by friction. In the vast majority of cases, skin tags are benign. They may get caught on clothing and become irritated or be unsightly in appearance, however, and need to be removed through skin tag surgery.
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Typical skin tags consist of a small fleshy bubble or tag. This tag is usually attached to the body by a thin stem of skin. They generally contain no sizable blood vessels or other significant internal structures.
Surgery to remove skin tags normally involves simply cutting the stalk that connects the tag to the body. This process may involve a small amount of discomfort, but is typically painless enough that it can be performed without any type of anesthetic. A doctor will simply sterilize the site of the skin tag, and then use either a scalpel or a pair of surgical scissors to cut the stalk. Patients with especially large skin tags or with many smaller tags may need a topical anesthetic.
After a skin tag surgery, a doctor will usually apply a topical antibiotic or antiseptic to prevent infection. After this, the site where the tag was located can be covered with a wound dressing, typically nothing more than a simple adhesive bandage. The site of a skin tag removal should heal rapidly and without complications so long as it is kept clean to avoid infection.
There are very few risks associated with skin tag surgery. The chance of infection is very low. A small scar is apt to form at the site of the incision, but this scar will typically be no larger than the size of the stalk that held the tag, and is likely to fade gradually over time. Tags in sensitive locations such as genital skin tags or anal skin tags can typically be removed in the standard fashion. Even skin tags located around the eyes can usually be removed simply, although a specialist may perform the procedure to minimize risk.
A doctor may send a skin tag in for a biopsy, to check for the presence of malignant cells. This is done rarely, however, because the vast majority of tags are entirely benign. Doctors may choose to err on the side of caution, however, especially when tags are oddly shaped or unusually abundant.