Skin Lesion Removal
This is the removal of an abnormal growth on the skin, called a lesion, for medical or cosmetic reasons. Skin lesions can include warts
Reasons for Procedure
- Lesion is precancerous or cancerous
- Lesion has created a chronic skin irritation
- Cosmetic preference
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a lesion removed, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Poor wound healing
- Nerve damage
- Recurrence of the lesion
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Bleeding disorders
- Circulatory problems
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Generally, no special preparation is required.
Local anesthesia will be used. It will make the area numb.
Description of the Procedure
The area will be cleaned. The skin surrounding the lesion will be numbed by anesthesia. Techniques for skin lesion removal vary depending on the reason for removal and lesion location. Common techniques include:
- Removal with scalpel—The lesion is cut away with a surgical knife.
- Laser surgery—A high-energy beam destroys skin tissue.
- Electrosurgery—This is the use of an electrical current to selectively destroy skin tissue.
- Cryosurgery—A cold liquid or instrument is used to freeze and remove the lesion.
- Curettage—This is the scraping of the skin with a circular cutting loop instrument.
- Mohs' micrographic surgery—This is used to examine suspected cancerous lesions. Small pieces of tissue are successively removed and then viewed microscopically for signs of cancer. The goal is to get all the cancer tissue and leave as much healthy tissue as possible.
How Long Will It Take?
This depends on which procedure is used. Most are completed within 5-20 minutes.
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You may have some pain at the surgery site after the procedure.
Keep the area clean and dry. Keep it covered with a sterile bandage for 1-2 days. If stickers were placed, they will fall off on their own in about a week.
Be sure to check with your doctor about when you may shower after the procedure. Pat the wound dry after you have washed it with a mild soap. Do not submerge the wound in water until it is well-healed.
Take pain medicine if necessary.
Stitches will be left in the skin for 3-14 days, depending on where they are located.
Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Any new symptoms
American Academy of Dermatology
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Dermatology Association
American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org.
Last reviewed November 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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