Skin tags are associated with an insulin resistant phenotype but studies in White Europeans with morbid obesity are lacking. We sought to determine whether the presence of cervical or axillary skin tags was associated with increased cardiovascular risk in Irish adults with morbid obesity. We conducted a cross-sectional study of patients attending our Irish regional bariatric centre with a BMI ≥ 40 kg m−2 (or ≥ 35 kg m−2 with co-morbidities). We compared anthropometric and metabolic characteristics in those with versus without skin tags.
Of 164 patients, 100 (31 male, 37 with type 2 diabetes, 36 on lipid lowering therapy, 41 on antihypertensive therapy) participated. Mean age was 53.7 ± 11.3 (range 31.1–80) years. Cervical or axillary tags were present in 85 patients. Those with tags had higher systolic blood pressure 138.0 ± 16.0 versus 125.1 ± 8.3 mmHg, p = 0.003) and HbA1c (46.5 ± 13.2 versus 36.8 ± 3.5 mmol/mol, p = 0.017). Tags were present in 94.6% of patients with diabetes, compared to 79.4% of those without diabetes (p = 0.039). Antihypertensive therapy was used by 45.8% of patients with skin tags compared to 13.3% without tags (p = 0.018). In bariatric clinic attenders skin tags were associated with higher SBP and HbA1c and a higher prevalence of diabetes and hypertension, consistent with increased vascular risk, but lipid profiles were similar.