Skin Tags (Acrochordons)
A skin condition involving small, benign skin growths. Cutaneous tags are very common, benign skin growths that occur most often after midlife. They are tiny skin protrusions, and may have a small narrow stalk connecting the skin bump to the surface of the skin. They are usually painless and do not grow or change, except for occasional irritation from rubbing by clothing or other friction. Their origin is unknown.
Skin tags are usually very small, but sometimes half an inch long and may be located on the neck, armpits, trunk, body folds, or other areas. They may have a narrow stalk and are usually skin-colored, but occasionally darker.
They may be surgically removed. There is usually no regrowth or scar formation after removal. New cutaneous tags may appear elsewhere on the body.
Sebaceous Cysts (Also known as Epidermal Cyst; Keratin Cyst; Epidermoid Cyst)
A closed sac found just under the skin containing “pasty” or “cheesy” looking skin secretions. Sebaceous cysts most often arise from swollen hair follicles. Skin trauma can also induce a cyst to form. A sac of cells is created into which a protein called keratin is secreted. These cysts are usually found on the face, neck, and trunk. They are usually slow- growing, painless, freely movable lumps beneath the skin. Occasionally, however, a cyst will become inflamed and tender.
Symptoms may include a nontender, small lump beneath the skin; redness, tenderness, or increased temperature of the skin over the area may occur infection; and grayish white, cheesy, foul smelling material may drain from the cyst.
In most cases, out doctors can diagnose a cyst based on its appearance. Occasionally, a biopsy may be needed to rule out other conditions with a similar appearance.
Sebaceous cysts can be surgically removed in our office. Alternatively, small inflamed cysts can be treated by injection of steroid medications.
A lipoma is a benign, fatty tumor in the skin and underlying tissue, usually on the back, arms and legs. Surgery may be suggested for cosmetic reasons or if the lipoma is bothersome, for example at the belt-line. An incision is made over the lipoma. The lipoma is opened, cut free from connective tissue and removed. The skin is closed with sutures or clips, which usually can be removed about 1 week after surgery.
Other Skin Lesions
Other skin lesions include pigmented (coloured) lesions such as moles or other skin lesions. Some moles can turn out to be cancerous lesions, called “melanomas”. Melanomas are dangerous cancerous lesions of the skin that can be related to unprotected sun exposure. Features of a melanoma follow the, so-called, “A B C D Criteria”:
A= Asymmetry. Moles that are asymmetric have a higher chance of being a melanoma.
B= Border. Moles with irregular, or interrupted borders have a higher chance of being a melanoma.
C= Colour. Moles that are extremely dark, or moles that have abnormal colours, or more than one colour have a higher chance of being considered a Melanoma.
D= Diameter. Larger moles (more than 10 mm diameter) have a higher chance of being a melanoma
Moles that are considered to be worrisome are excised under a local or regional anaesthesia. Some of them, particularly if the Doctor is suspicious of a melanoma, are excised using a “wide area excision” technique. In this technique, an elliptical incision is made around the mole, with a 1 cm border of skin on all sides. The skin, including some of the fat underneath the skin, in removed. The wound is reconstructed by the Doctor using a rotation advancement flap, usually with very acceptable cosmetic results.
Other cancerous lesions of the skin include Basal Cell Carcinomas, Squamous Cell Carcinomas and Sarcomas. Some potentially cancerous lesions occur underneath the skin, and can include Sarcomas and Lymphomas.
If your Family Physician has recommended that you see us for a biopsy or excision of a suspicious subcutantous or skin lesion, our Physician will first meet with you in a consultation to address your situation.