It's a tag's life

Wart is this? Pardon the pun but it was not so long ago that I found out that the blemishes on my face were not warts, but "skin tags". I've had them since my early 30s.

Removal of these skin tags used to be an expensive affair. In 2004, when a Thai friend said he knew of a place in Bangkok that could removed them cheaply, I jumped at the chance.

But I was not prepared for the procedure to be done by some woman from China and the cheap-looking flat that greeted me. It was too late to turn back though.

She employed cauterisation, a method using a rod with electric current, to burn the tags.

It was really painful and left little red spots on my face and neck. That's because she literally "plucked" the tags out. I've heard of the Chinese Water Torture but not the Chinese Electric Torture ... till now!

I was supposed to be attending an event that night and the guests were a little taken aback by my appearance as I looked like I had measles!

The skin-tag free complexion lasted for more than two years. But after that, fresh skin tags started growing again sporadically.

In the course of writing this story, I decided to explore local options and chanced upon dermatologist Dr Ranjit Singh's clinic.

When he saw me, one of his first questions were: "Are you here for Botox?"

"No," I spluttered, "Skin tags."

The wait turned out to be longer than the procedure. For a more accurate account, I thought I would try cauterisation on one side of my face and laser on the other. The idea was to show the different healing process between the two methods.

Dr Ranjit explained that he would use CO2 laser for the smaller, less obvious skin tags, and cauterisation for the larger ones.

The laser felt like angry ant bites, and the cauterisation felt like electric shocks running through my system. The smell of flesh being singed was unmistakable.

My colleague Sam (who busy recording my pain with her camera) said she could tell the degree of pain by the amount of fumes she saw! Turned out I had more of the fleshy-type skin tags so I mostly went through cauterisation.

Dr Ranjit hardly paused in between tags, although there were times I wished he did as it was quite painful.

But it was still a lot more tolerable than in Bangkok! Though it felt like a lifetime, it was over before I knew it, and my face looked like a shower of tiny meteorites had just hit it.

I was advised not to apply any face products over the next few days. A cream was prescribed to soothe and speed up the healing process, to be used on the affected spots at night. According to Dr Ranjit, the darkened spots would heal in about four days.

Most of the skin tags have since cleared but I went back three weeks later to do a touch up on the remaining stubborn ones.

Guess I'm ready to "face" the world now!