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DPN Facial Lesions (“skin tags”) in African-American Patients

DPN stands for Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra and is a common benign lesion in African-American patients. It is usually characterized by multiple, small, hyperpigmented, asymptomatic papules (skin tags) on the face of adults. Histologically, dermatosis papulosa nigra resembles keratosis. The condition may be cosmetically undesirable to some patients and removal is generally simple.  Effective methods include surgical excision or more commonly ablation (melting away) with lasers, radiowave devices or electrosurgery devices.

Over the years I have treated thousands of these lesions and the best cosmetic results have been with radiowave ablation and/or laser ablation.  I prefer the Iridex 940nm wavelenght as it removes DPN’s by attacking the melanin.  With the 940 laser treatment, the DPN is melted while the normal skin is spared.  The lesions immediately turn grey and fall off or flake away over the next week or so.  With radiowave surgery, the lesion is melted by radiowaves which vaporizes the lesion in a small puff of smoke.  I generally use both 940 nm laser and radiowave surgery to treat DPN’s and the cosmetic result has been extremely favorable.

In some cases, the DPN’s disappear completely without any scar, but in many cases there is still a faint color difference with the normal skin.  Even with this color difference, all patients have been very pleased with the treatment and results.

Treatment only takes seconds for each lesion and I have treated several hundred at a time in some patients.  For a small number of lesions, no anesthesia is needed when using the laser.  For multiple lesions or very large DPN’s local anesthetic numbing is performed.  I also offer IV sedation as an option for patient that wish large treatment areas performed painlessly.

The video below shows Dr. Niamtu treating DPN’s with the Ellman radiowave system.


The picture below shows a patient before and after 3 sessions of 940 nm laser and radiowave treatment of numerous DPN’s. 



For more information about DPN’s or skin lesions visit


Joe Niamtu, III DMD

Cosmetic Facial Surgery

Richmond, Virginia

Office Address

Joe Niamtu III, DMD
11319 Polo Place
Midlothian, VA 23113

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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