Removing "Age Spots?

Under American laws regulating medicine, any questionable lesion removed from a patient’s skin must have a biopsy. My own personal experience highlights the importance of this directive.

I had a spot on my arm last year. Dr. C thought it was only a mole; I didn’t think so. He removed it and it came back positive (SCC). I then spotted a “classic” melanoma on my face and ran to the dermatologist. He said, YES this is a melanoma and cut it out. The biopsy revealed it was NOT! It was not dangerous at all.

Dr. C has had two BBCs. My dermatologist had one of these and my radiologist had FIVE skin cancers!

Such examples happen all the time. Many lesions on the skin are not easily identifiable by sight: all need microscopic examination to rule out cancer. It’s the law.

I’m talking about this, because estheticians and electrologists ARE removing skin lesions using their electrolysis devices. The practice must stop.

Indeed, I could make a case for removing telangiectasia (and I do in my book). But removing “age spots” or any other pigmented lesion is the practice of medicine and removing such lesions could cause a person’s death. How could this happen?

Suppose an esthetician removes an “Age Spot” but it’s actually a Basal Cell Carcinoma (or melanoma!). Now the evidence of the cancer has been erased, but NOT really removed. The cancer now has a couple more years to grow under the skin and cause significant problems.

None of us in this “industry” have the medical experience to identify skin cancer. Our only directive is to send patients to a dermatologist if something doesn’t “look right.”

Sadly, there are now MANY manufacturers producing “electrolysis” machines that are designed for removing skin lesions. Such devices as the: Thermolo, SkinSystem, VascuTouch, VeinGough, Apiderme, VeinWave, BiManoTron, LamProbe, Vasculyse … etc. (Some of these are sold appropriately to physicians only … but not all!)

This practice by beauticians is DANGEROUS and illegal. Don’t do it! EVER! (I suppose if you are working in a physician’s office and he/she allows this practice, that might be okay). Still, I would NOT do it. Let the doctor do it.

All of this is a ticking “time bomb” that is waiting to explode. Indeed, regulators are seriously concerned with this growing practice.

Larry Kunze is a friend. He’s selling his device (to estheticians) and you should have a look at his video. I like Larry, but what is being promoted is dangerous and should not be done.

Skin cancer is an epidemic! Please consider my warning. Removing that “age spot” could result in a patient’s death.

We were always told in cosmetology school to NEVER remove any kind of lesion or spot beyond blackheads or pimples. Be that as it may, I know the practice still goes on, and yes it is very dangerous. Any unknown lesion or spot, especially if newly appeared or changing in appearance, needs to be seen by a physician post haste.

I’m supposing that having recently had a removal from your face for skin cancer you are likely a little more sensative to this subject than you normally would be, especially since you have made your living for 40 years, treating skin!

I’m not so sure though that I would consider skin cancer an “epidemic”. I’m wondering though if it might seem so to you, in part because of your geographical area? Is the hot california sun causing more incidence of this type of abnormality to become more frequent in your area? Because honestly up here int he great white north, such things are relatively uncommon. IT does happen, but not with anywhere near the frequency you seem to indicate.

Admission time, I have on two occasions treated a skin abnomality. Both times on my partner Nightfrost. On the first a (not so simple) hair removal on a mole on his hand. Galvanic failed. Lye produced but far from a “smooth” extraction. The second time I used blend.Now two months later there is STILL a hair or two growing from it. The follicles dont seem tinght, they seem deeper. TBH, I’m hesitant to treat he same lcation a third time.
The other was a skin tag removal. He had one right behind his earlovbe and it was driving him absolutely crazy. At his request ( read begging) and with much discomfort I agreed to try and take it off for him. It made me extremely nervous to do this with thermolysis but I researched the method, took my time to get everything strait, and in less than 1/2 a second it was gone.IT scared the crap out of me because I wasnt prepared for the efficiency at which my machine dispatched it. A month an a half later, the spot is smooth skin.

I’m not going to enter an opinion on whether it was right or wrong to remove the skin tag, but all in all it wasnt a huge deal.It’s not the type of work I really want to get into, for all the reasons you stated.None of us are medical professionals. I dont however see how doing so is a lot different than the person removing a skin tag themselves with a pair of scissors? There is a point where a person has to take responsibility for their own health. If they have cancerous growths popping up on their skin it is their responsibility to seek medical attention if it’s warranted. If they choose to have an abnomality removed cosmetically, and not seek medical attention, ultimately that is their responsibility, not the girl with the scissors they ask to remove something that appears minor.


First, you might not consider skin cancer an epidemic, but the the American Academy of Dermatology does! They state that "skin cancer is an epidemic with a 57% increase in the last 5 years alone.”

Skin tags are generally not pigmented (I talked about pigmented lesions) and are quite obvious. I would still error on the side of caution. Treat yourself, not others.

For your information:

I have to agree with this. Rates of skin cancer have skyrocketed, made worse by the disgusting fad of tanning as well as more time outdoors and a weakened ozone layer. Malignant melanoma can be deadly, and all forms of skin cancer can lead to serious disfigurement or injury if not promptly treated. It doesn’t always look like much when it starts (some forms first appear as odd little dry patches) which is why seeking medical advice is always essential.

I very much appreciate your comments “WeR…” I can’t fathom that there would be any debate in this situation whatsoever.

If a plastic surgeon, with 45 years experience, can’t absolutely recognize skin cancer by observation (only), how can an esthetician/electrologist make such a decision?

And, that was my point in posting … not about “doing skin tags on your friends.” Or, “it’s up to the patient … “ (Patients can’t recognize these lesions either!)

I’m speaking to our group of professionals in private practice (not DIYers) that might be tempted to “erase” a tiny/insignificant pigmented blemish. And, as you say correctly, sometimes these cancers present only a tiny mark.

My own “non-melanoma cancer,” that resulted in the removal of a lot of tissue, presented a 2-mm diameter dot. The spot fooled both Dr. Chapple and the Mohs/surgery dermatologist who said, “Oh, this one is going to be pretty easy.” Not so.

I’m hoping that any client or “lurker” reading Seana’s comments doesn’t get the idea that it’s really just fine for an esthetician (or friend) to remove “suspect” lesions! It’s not! And, it’s not legal; at least here in this country.

Michael you are so right! Skin lesions SHOULD NEVER BE TAKEN LIGHTLY! Never! I know that thermocoagulation can be done on a variety of skin lesions if you are a non-physician, in some geographical areas, something I personally don’t agree with. Yes! It is hard enough for a trained physician to decide by just looking at a lesion if the thing is benign or cancerous. So like all good scientists, they biopsy it and look at the cells under a microscope so an accurate diagnosis can be made.

There are some things, like hemangioma’s of a certain size for example, that can safely be zapped away, but we certainly don’t want to "wipe " away evidence of something more serious. How sad if a friend helping a friend erased evidence of something serious dwelling below the skin.

Thanks Michael. I got your post got me just in time! Presently i am in Mexico and was seriously thinking of seeing a dermatologist to have some spots removed. Some of them are a bit iffy however it takes FOR EVER AND THEN SOME to see a dermatologist where I live and if you’re lucky you’ll get five minutes. So I thought that maybe I could gets it done here but your post is making me seriously rethink this idea… Damnwish it wasnt so!

Wait, im thinking this all through again and could use some advice. So I’m in Mexico where it would be way easier to see a dermatologist and maybe get some spots removed. Would this be ok to proceed with as long as they do a biopsy on anything that is removed?

I wouldn’t hazard a recommendation Danika. However, the doctors in Mexico can be super too. (We Northerners have an “attitude.”)

If he’s got a nice “can” of liquid nitrogen and wants to “freeze off” any pre-cancers … I would do it. Most of the time they will not need to do a biopsy. Dermatologists are fine at recognizing common “solar” keratosis and there’s a lot of that in Mexico.

(As I discovered, being “Latino” doesn’t protect you from the sun. I didn’t think Italians ever got skin cancer. My dad used to say that we “have olive oil in our skin.” At 94, his skin was flawless … then, he didn’t spend much time in the sun. I did!)