Dr. Hina Altaf Dermatologist

Moles, Warts and Skin Tags Removal

Moles, Warts and Skin Tags Removal

A mole or naevus is a normal skin growth that develops when pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) grow in groups. They appear as small, dark marks, or sometimes flesh-coloured small bumps, on your skin. Moles can appear in a range of different colours, shapes and sizes.

It is very common to have moles and most are harmless, patients opting for them to be removed due to cosmetic or diagnostic reasons.

How Do I Know if a Mole Is Cancer?

The vast majority of moles are not dangerous. Moles that are more likely to be cancer are those that look different than other existing moles.

You should check out your own moles by doing a skin self-exam. Look for the ABCDEs of melanoma, and note any of the following symptoms so you can point them out to your dermatologist:

  • Asymmetry: The two sides of the mole look different from each other.
  • Border: The mole’s border is crooked, jagged or irregular.
  • Color: The mole is multi-colored.
  • Diameter: The width is more than 6 millimeters, which is about the size of pencil eraser.
  • Evolution: The mole has changed in size, shape or feeling.

 

If you notice any of the above changes, you should have a dermatologist evaluate it. Pay special attention to areas of the skin that are often exposed to the sun, such as the hands, arms, chest, neck, face, ears, legs, and back (most common in men is the chest area, and in women the lower leg area).

You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did you first notice this mole?
  • Have you always had it, or is it new?
  • Have you noticed any changes in this mole, such as its color or shape?
  • Have you had other moles surgically removed in the past? If so, do you know if they were unusual (atypical nevi) or malignant?
  • Do you have a family history of atypical nevi, melanoma or other cancers?
  • Have you had peeling sunburns or frequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation, such as from tanning beds?

If a dermatologist believes a mole needs to be evaluated further, they will do a biopsy by shaving or cutting out the entire spot so that it can be evaluated under the microscope. This is a simple procedure.

Mole Removal Procedure

First, the dermatologist will give you a numbing injection near the mole. This may pinch a little, but should keep you from feeling any pain during the removal. There are a few different techniques your dermatologist may use to remove the mole.

These techniques include:

  • Shave biopsy – a razor blade is used to shave off the mole and the skin around it
  • Punch biopsy – A punch tool is placed over the mole and used to “punch” out the mole
  • Scalpel removal – A scalpel is used to remove the mole and skin surrounding it and stitches are used to help the skin hea

 

Having a mole removed is a simple, low-risk procedure, under local anesthesia. The procedure may leave a small scar, which can be most of the times hidden very well, if the stitch is done to result in a straight-line scar with the orientation based on the skin wrinkles.

Skin Tags

A skin tag is a small flap of tissue that hangs off the skin by a connecting stalk. Skin tags are not dangerous. They are usually found on the neck, chest, back, armpits, under the breasts, or in the groin area. Skin tags appear most often in women, especially with weight gain, and in elderly people.

Skin tags usually don’t cause any pain. However, they can become irritated if anything, such as clothing, jewelry, or skin rubs against them.

Genital Warts

Warts is a common term that is used to describe a small growth or bump on the skin. These growths are typically benign and can be found in several different areas of the body, including around the mouth, fingers, and feet. Genital warts look like whitish or skin-colored bumps. These warts have a rough surface texture and usually take on the look of cauliflower in appearance. In most cases, they are harmless but may become uncomfortable or painful if they are irritated or subjected to friction.

Genital warts are caused by a virus called human papillomavirus or HPV. This virus can be passed through skin contact with a person who has them. Genital warts can cause one or more small bumps on the genitals. Some people will not develop symptoms even after they have contracted HPV; this makes it possible to spread the virus without knowing that you have it.

What Are The Symptoms Of Female Genital Warts

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have genital warts:

  • Flesh-colored or grey growths around your vagina, anus, or upper thighs
  • Cauliflower-like growths
  • Growths may be internal
  • Itching or bleeding from your vagina or anus
  • Changes to the flow of urine

Knowing the strain of HPV infection is important; HPV strains have been grouped into ‘low risk’ and ‘high risk’ types. The HPV strains that can cause cancer are the high risk strains.

Genital Warts Removal

There are different ways to remove genital warts. You may need several treatments to get rid of them.

Your healthcare provider may use one of these methods to treat genital warts:

  • Electrocautery: Electrocautery involves the removal of warts by destroying them with a low-voltage electrical probe. This procedure is performed in the doctor’s office, and a local anesthetic is applied to the area surrounding the warts.

Electrocautery is typically used when the warts are small and not widespread. Swelling and pain can occur after surgery. It can take two to four weeks to heal and even longer if the doctor cauterizes large areas. Scarring may occur.

  • Freezing: Cryotherapy (cryosurgery) destroys genital warts by freezing them. A doctor applies a very cold substance, such as liquid nitrogen, around warts to freeze them, for the genital warts that are visible, growing in a small area, or bothersome. It’s usually not used when genital warts are widespread. You may have a mild or moderate burning sensation during treatment. Recovery time depends on the location and number of warts removed. Healing usually occurs in 1 to 3 weeks. After treatment, you may have:
    • Irritation, soreness, or mild pain.
    • Dead tissue that sheds off.
    • Sores or blisters.

It is best to avoid sexual contact until the treated area heals.

  • Laser treatment: In this procedure, a laser destroys warts or abnormal cervical or vaginal cells. Laser surgery for warts is typically used when the warts are inside the vagina or other treatments to remove them have failed. Laser surgery can destroy moderate to severe cell changes.

Your doctor may recommend a follow-up Pap test to check for cell abnormalities four to six months after the procedure.

  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): With a loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or LEEP, your doctor uses a wire loop heated by an electrical current to remove large genital warts or abnormal cervical tissue. It can be performed in the doctor’s office with sedation and local anesthesia or in the hospital with general anesthesia. While there may be some discomfort during the procedure, it is not painful.

Recovery can take one to three days, depending on the number of warts removed or the size of the area treated for abnormal cells. Sexual activity should be avoided for one to three weeks after the procedure.

  • Surgery: This procedure can be used to remove small, hardened warts and those that have joined together, as well as abnormal cervical tissue. The doctor uses a local anesthetic to numb the skin or the cervix and then excises the wart or abnormal tissue using a scalpel. Stitches are typically necessary, which dissolve on their own in two to three weeks.

Sexual activity should be avoided during the healing process, which can take about two to four weeks.

  • Topical (skin) medicine: Once a week for several weeks, you apply a prescription chemical solution or cream to the warts. The chemical causes blisters to form under the warts, stopping blood flow. In some cases, your provider may apply the chemical solution at their office. There are also prescription creams your provider will prescribe that you can use at home.

 

Surgically treating genital warts doesn’t cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, however, and warts can return after surgery if the immune system does not eliminate the infection. Surgery may be used to treat moderate to severe cervical dysplasia by removing abnormal cells on the cervix. This can reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Surgery is not used to treat mild cervical dysplasia, which often goes away on its own and typically does not lead to cancer.

Even if you don’t have an active outbreak and your warts were removed, you can still spread HPV.

The Gardasil vaccine protects against infection with certain low-risk and high-risk HPV types. Gardasil helps protect girls and young women against HPV strains that cause genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina, and vulva. Boys and young men can receive Gardasil to prevent genital warts and certain cancers.

Minimal Downtime

You can return to your daily routine immediately after

Immediate Results

Results within 24 to 48 hours, with full results in 30 days

Painless Procedure

Brief period of discomfort during the injection, similar to a pinch

Results That Last

Effects typically last for several months

The removal of moles, warts, and skin tags can be done through various methods. Common removal techniques include surgical excision, cryotherapy (freezing), cauterization (burning), laser therapy, and topical medications. The choice of method depends on the type, size, and location of the lesion, as well as individual factors.
The level of discomfort during removal can vary depending on the method used and individual pain tolerance. Local anesthesia is typically administered to numb the area before the procedure to minimize discomfort. Some methods, such as cryotherapy or laser therapy, may cause a temporary stinging or burning sensation.
While removal procedures for moles, warts, and skin tags are generally safe, there can be potential risks and side effects. These may include temporary redness, swelling, scarring, infection, bleeding, or changes in skin color or texture. It's essential to have the procedure performed by a qualified healthcare professional to minimize these risks.
In some cases, there is a possibility of recurrence after removal. It depends on the specific characteristics of the lesion and the removal method used. For example, with moles, if the entire mole isn't completely excised, it may regrow. Warts and skin tags may also reappear if the viral or tissue remnants are not entirely eliminated. Your healthcare provider will discuss the likelihood of recurrence based on your specific case.
Healing time varies depending on the size and location of the lesion, as well as the removal method used. Typically, the area will heal within a few weeks. Your healthcare provider will provide instructions on wound care, such as keeping the area clean and applying any necessary ointments or dressings. It's crucial to follow their guidance for optimal healing and to minimize the risk of complications.

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Dr. Hinah Altaf’s clinic is currently at Gargash Hospital, 145 Umm Suqeim Street – Umm Al Sheif -Dubai.