Patients commonly come to our clinic for evaluation and removal of bothersome skin growths. While most of these growths are benign, knowing the types of skin growths and how to treat them is important.
Skin growths, also known as skin lesions, are areas of skin that are different than the surrounding skin. A lesion can be a sore, a bump, or an area of abnormal skin.
The following are examples of some of the most common skin lesions:
Skin cancer may cause lesions, but many types of skin growths are benign (non-cancerous). Causes of benign skin growths include:
Sometimes the visual characteristics of the growth and its behavior over time allow a diagnosis to be made confidently. We will commonly employ a dermatoscope, a tool that magnifies and clarifies the appearance of skin growths, to aid in this process. In other instances, a biopsy may be necessary to ensure that the growth in question is nothing concerning. Treatment for skin growth depends largely on the type of skin lesion. Some types of benign skin lesions, such as skin tags, disappear on their own and do not need treatment. Other types of skin growth require removal.
Dermatologists perform several different procedures to remove benign skin growths in their offices or in outpatient settings. The type of benign skin lesion removal procedure a dermatologist uses depends on the location, size, and type of lesion. Skin doctors often numb the area before removing a benign skin growth. The doctor typically sends the removed skin growth to the laboratory for examination under a microscope.
Dermatologists can remove skin tags by freezing the excess skin off with liquid nitrogen, cutting the tag off with a special pair of scissors, or burning the tag using cauterization.
In a procedure known as excision, dermatologists shave off the mole using a scalpel blade. In some cases, a skin doctor may use laser mole removal, a procedure in which light energy breaks down the skin cells that make up a mole. Stitches are often required for excision but not for laser mole removal.
Surgical removal is usually required for cysts. After administering local anesthesia, the dermatologist makes an incision above or near the cyst to drain and then remove it. Stitches may be required to close the surgical site.
Insurance plans may cover the removal of certain benign growths while others consider these procedures to be cosmetic. Even in the case of medical coverage, it is important to understand that you may be held responsible for the full cost of a procedure if your “surgical” deductible has not yet been met. If there is any question regarding coverage, medical benefits, or deductibles, the diagnosis and procedure codes can be provided to you after your medical evaluation. Your insurance company can then give you an accurate breakdown of charges using these codes.