Cost of removing moles, lumps, and bumps?

Hi, I just came from my derm to look at few "moles" on my legs which were not cancerous or bothersome, just unsightly. She said they were part of the skin tag family, as well as from the sun, and were hereditary. She said she could freeze them, but they won't be covered by insurance and would cost over $200 a piece. I am a 55 year old female. With that being said, do any of the over-the-counter skin tag remedies work or anything else I could try to get rid of them? Thanks, Kare

I wonder if she was saying that freezing the moles (with liquid nitrogen (LN2)) would be $200 for all of them? But you bring up a good point, which is that prices vary a lot, depending on the clinic. Most insurance companies don’t cover benign growth removal, because it isn’t a medical necessity to remove these. Unlike a biopsy, for example, that determines whether something is a skin cancer. Most dermatologists can tell whether a spot/lesion needs to be biopsied by looking, using a magnifying lense, and/or a dermatoscope. For example, most companies pay for removal of a cyst, if it is constantly getting irritated or getting infected. I agree with the position of the insurance companies on this one. Removing benign growths IS an elective or cosmetic procedure.

Please don’t diagnose yourselves on these. It could be a fatal mistake. Have your primary care doctor or a dermatologist look at the spot/lesion!

Here’s what makes sense to me, and this is my opinion and based on knowledge of the field:

  • Skin tags – Usually found in skin fold areas, but can be anywhere. Usually removed with LN2 or electrocautery. $25 – 300 depending on the number removed.
  • Cysts – These can range from very small to golf ball size or large. These may be covered by insurance – ask your doctor. Range is usually $200-700 depending on where and how large.
  • Seborrheic Keratoses (SKs or “barnacles”) can be found anywhere on the body. Note: These are NOT AKs which are precancerous spots/lesions and ARE covered by insurance. See the costs and methods for skin tags.
  • Flat warts. The only way to know for sure is by a small biopsy. Removal is usually covered by insurance.

Removal of moles (Nevi):

  • If it’s suspicious, your doctor will biopsy it, and that is usually covered by insurance.
  • If it isn’t suspicious, it’s a “cosmetic” mole removal and you should be given costs at request.
  • Dermatologists and the mid level providers that work with us, like PA-Cs or ARNPs, are generally less expensive than plastic surgeons.
  • Occasionally a plastic surgeon is really needed due to the size or location of the mole.
  • You are always trading a scar for the mole. The question is… will it be a good trade?
  • Costs range from about $400 to over $1,500 depending on the complexity of the removal.
  • Remember that the pathology fee is a separate cost and usually is from $150-300 depending on the lab.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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