How Much Does It Cost To Remove A Keloid without Insurance?
The cost of keloid removal ranges from $75 to upward of $2,000 depending on the type and duration of treatment. Keloid removal is considered a cosmetic procedure, therefore is not usually covered by health insurance. As a rule of thumb, larger, more severe keloids will cost more to remove.
Keloids are raised scars that can occur anywhere on the body, and while keloids aren’t harmful, a person might find them painful and unattractive and seek medical treatment to remove the scar.
The Cost of Keloid Removal
Keloids aren't harmful, contagious, or cancerous, but can cause pain and discomfort. If you are in pain from a keloid, and are unhappy with its appearance, there are multiple treatment options available to reduce and remove keloid scarring. Treatment options include surgery, steroid injections, lasering, and at-home products.
The chart below provides a comprehensive list of common keloid removal options and the average cost without insurance.
Average Cost of Keloid Removal Without Insurance
|Type of Treatment||Description||Average Cost (without insurance)|
|Steroid Injections||The most popular type of keloid treatment involves a direct injection to the keloid with corticosteroids. This helps to flatten and reduce the size of the keloid.||$75 to $250 per session, up to four sessions required|
|At-Home Products||Some over-the-counter products, such as cortisol creams, have been clinically proven to soften and flatten keloid scars, depending on the newness and severity.||$18 to $35, depending on the brand|
|Cryotherapy||Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen that is sprayed onto or directly injected into the keloid. The nitrogen causes damage to scar tissue, which reduces the overall size.||$100 to $150 per session; number of sessions based on keloid size/severity|
|Pulsed Dye Laser||A pulsed dye laser is used to directly target scar tissue without disturbing or damaging the surrounding area; this method is not commonly used.||$100 to $150 per sessions|
|Silicone-based Product||A non-invasive treatment option that uses a small sheet of silicone designed to apply pressure directly on the keloid. This method has been proven to reduce the size and treat pain and itching of the keloid.||$15 to $50 depending on the shape and size of sheets|
|Surgery||Surgery is often the last result or reserved for severe cases, as the recurrence rate for keloids is very high.||$500 for small keloid to $2,500 for complex keloid (hard to reach, larger in size)|
Source: Keloid Removal Cost
Other Cost Considerations of Keloid Removal
In addition to the cost of the treatment, there are other factors that can impact the cost of Keloid removal, including your geographical location, the type of medical facility, their billing practices, and size and location of the keloid.
Most keloids can be done in outpatient clinics or even at your doctor's office, which can decrease the overall cost. Receiving care in a hospital setting will typically increase cost and be the most expensive option. Although, outpatient center billing practices might be confusing as some facilities will send multiple bills from outside professionals who are contracted to work in the facility, such as an anesthesiologist.
The use of local or general anesthesia for your procedure is often billed separately from the surgery itself. General anesthesia is typically used for more invasive surgical procedures, however your dermatologist might opt to inject local anesthesia into the treatment area as a numbing agent. Nevertheless, depending on the length of the surgery and type of anesthesia, bills can exceed $800.
Size and Location of the Keloid
The smaller the keloid is, the easier the removal and the shorter the overall surgery time. If you're going the non-surgical route, smaller keloids will require fewer rounds of treatment or injections. Similarly, if the keloid is located in an easy-to-reach place, like your earlobe, the procedure will be minimal and less expensive. On the contrary, harder to reach and larger keloids will require a longer treatment course or surgery leading to higher costs.
Insurance Coverage for Keloid Removal
Since keloid scars are not medically harmful or detrimental to your overall health, most health insurance plans will not cover keloid removal. Insurers usually deem keloid removal as cosmetic and not medically necessary.
When considering keloid removal, your best course of action is to seek out a medical consultation. The location and size of the keloid could mean the removal is medically necessary as determined by your physician. If the treatment is deemed medically necessary, most insurance plans will cover some or all of the cost.
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About Keloid Scars
A Keloid is caused by excess protein or collagen build up in the skin during the healing process of a scar or injury. The body uses collagen protein for wound healing, but when the body produces too much collagen, keloids can form. Typically, keloid growth is triggered by trauma to the skin caused by:
- Insect bites
- Acne scars
- Body piercings
- Surgical incision sites
- Vaccination sites
- Chicken Pox scarring
Keloids can form within months to years of an injury or skin trauma and most commonly appear on earlobes, shoulders, cheeks, or the middle of the chest. Keloid scars usually present as shiny, hairless, lumpy, raised skin and can vary in texture, shape, and size. Furthermore, the color of the scar can be reddish, brown, or purplish depending on your skin color.
Signs of Keloid Growth
If you have experienced one of the previously mentioned common triggers of keloid scarring, it's essential to know the signs and symptoms of keloid development. Keloid scars often grow to be larger than the injury itself and develop very slowly. Here are some of the common symptoms experienced during keloid growth:
- Localized patch of itchy or tender skin
- Localized area around wound becoming darker than skin color; pink, red, or purple
- Skin raised around a scar
- Area feels soft and doughy or hard and rubbery
- The raised lump is in one fixed place
Furthermore, If you are experiencing any of the symptoms and unsure of the cause, it's important to seek out evaluation and care from your primary care physician or dermatologist.
Anyone can develop keloid scarring. An estimated 10 percent of people have experienced keloid scarring, and men and women are equally likely to have keloid scarring. However, there are specific risk factors commonly associated with keloid formation.
Darker Skin Tone
Studies have shown that people with darker skin tones and African and Asian descent are 15 times more likely to develop keloids than white or fair-skinned people.
Family History of Keloids
Keloids can be hereditary (passed down through families). If you know someone in your immediate family, especially parents or siblings with keloids, you are at greater risk of developing a keloid even without a present wound or skin trauma.
Under the Age of 30
Between 10 and 30 years of age is the peak time for keloid development, as most people begin to see keloids in their 20s. Young adults are more prone to scarring and overall skin damage and at a higher risk od injury, which also increases the risk of keloid development.
Keloid Treatment FAQ(s)
Below are some commonly asked questions regarding keloid treatment and prevention.
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What type of doctor is best for keloid treatment?
Because Keloids are scars of the skin, your dermatologist is the best specialty physician to receive care from. The majority of dermatologists are able to perform steroid injections and cryotherapy. If you are looking to get surgical removal, a dermatologist might recommend secondary consultations with a plastic surgeon, depending on the location of the keloid.
If you currently have a dermatologist, you should seek a primary consultation. If you do not, you can make an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP) to get recommendations for the best dermatologist to seek within your care network and area. If you do not have a PCP, Mira can help! With membership, Mira offers unlimited $5 virtual care appointments.
How many treatments are necessary to treat a keloid scar?
The number of treatment sessions heavily depends on the size and location of your keloid. For steroid injections, dermatologists will perform at least four sessions spaced about two to six weeks apart.
For pulsed dye laser treatment and cryotherapy, you will probably complete 6-7 treatments with 4 to 8 weeks in between each session. However, it's important to note that the number of sessions can vary depending on how the keloid responds to the initial rounds of treatment.
Keloid Removal Treatment Details
|Treatment||Average Number of Sessions||Treatment Frequency|
|Steroid injections||At least 4||Every 2 to 6 weeks|
|Pulsed dye laser treatment||6-7||Every 4 to 8 weeks|
|Cryotherapy||6-7||Every 4 to 8 weeks|
|Over-The-Counter (OTC)||Varies (follow product directions)||Varies|
Are there ways to prevent keloid development?
Although there are very few things you can do to completely prevent keloids, especially if you have a genetic disposition, there are several ways to reduce your risk and the severity of the scar.
Treat injuries and burns immediately
Wound care following an injury (including acne-related blemishes) is one of the most critical prevention methods to reduce the risk of scarring and keloids. Make sure wounds remain clean by using a gentle cleanser without any harsh or irritating chemicals. Run cool water over it or use a cool compress for burns immediately. If the burn or wound does not improve over a few days, seek out medical care.
Massaging and keeping scars moisturized can assist in the internal healing process by softening the scar tissue that causes keloids. Regular massages of the wound also helps with overall skin recovery and regeneration.
Be extra cautious of piercings and tattoos
If you know you are predisposed to keloids, you should be cautious of tattoos and piercings. Some professionals recommend avoiding them altogether if you have previously developed keloids. However, if you go in for a tattoo, it's suggested to do a spot test weeks before your formal appointment to see how your skin reacts and heals.
Although Keloid scarring isn't medically dangerous, it can be a cosmetic impediment and irritation for many people. Knowing your options for removal and if you have a predisposition for developing keloids can help you be aware of symptom development. Furthermore, treating keloids early on will require fewer treatment sessions and decrease your cost of care.
Although keloids are not harmful to your health, cosmetic appearance and feeling good about your skin should be prioritized. Being able to consult physicians, receive recommendations for dermatologists, and figure out the best treatment options is essential to maintaining overall health and wellness.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Alexandra is currently getting her Master's in Public Health with a health policy certificate at Columbia University. One of her life goals is to own her own art gallery!