Skin lesions are abnormal growths on the skin. They can look like a lump or a sore or be a discolored area of the skin. Skin lesion removal surgery is a common treatment for removing such lesions. While not usually a complicated procedure, it’s good to know what to expect when talking to your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skin Lesion Removal
Thousands of patients undergo lesion removal surgery and have similar questions when facing the procedure.
How Does My Physician Know I Have a Skin Lesion?
In many cases, patients call attention to the abnormal area of the skin by talking to a primary care doctor or dermatologist. Discoloration, bleeding or raised skin are common characteristics of lesions. The physician will look at the location and the size of the area, taking note of the different characteristics to determine which kind of lesion it is. Removal treatment depends on the lesion, and a general practitioner may refer you to a general surgeon or dermatologist for removal.
What Are the Types of Skin Lesions?
There are dozens of conditions classified as skin lesions. Not all of these, such as acne, psoriasis or contact dermatitis, require skin lesion removal surgery. Lesions that typically qualify for surgery include:
- Sebaceous cysts
- Skin tags
Skin lesions fall into categories such as blisters, nodules, macules, papules, pustules, wheals and rashes. Your physician will determine if your condition is eligible for surgery. Three common types of lesions removed are macules, nodules and papules.
Can I Remove Lesions Myself?
Even if one is small, you should never try to take care of a skin lesion on your own. Whether a mole, skin tag or something else, you run the risk of serious skin injuries, infection and scarring with an at-home treatment.
In addition, the lesion itself could be malignant, requiring medical intervention to address the cancer. About 9,500 people receive a skin cancer diagnosis every day, with the cancer often presenting in a skin lesion.
The FDA hasn’t approved any at-home medications to treat skin lesions. General surgery is recommended for many conditions.
What Happens on the Day of the Procedure?
Many skin lesion removal procedures take place in an outpatient facility. You will receive pre-procedure instructions from the facility and physician. These commonly include not wearing any lotion, deodorant, perfume or jewelry on the day. You may also be asked to have another person drive you to and from your appointment.
What Kind of Surgery Will I Have?
The surgeon handling your procedure determines the technique for skin lesion removal. There are several options:
- Electrodesiccation to heat and remove the unwanted lesion
- Curettage to scrape off the lesion
- Excision to cut out the lesion
Laser excision uses a small beam of light to treat a small area with specific types of cells, often in benign or pre-malignant lesions.
What Will I Feel During Surgery?
The extent of your lesion removal determines what kind of anesthetic you receive. In some cases, a numbing agent is applied to the area of the lesion. A local anesthetic may be given through an injection under the skin. Once the medication is active, the area is numb and painless. While this keeps you from feeling any pain, you may feel some slight pressure sensations during the procedure.
Local anesthesia is often preferred over general anesthesia, as it avoids a lengthy recovery as well as the potential side effects associated with general anesthesia. However, more complex removal surgery may require a sedative or general anesthesia.
Surgical Procedures for Skin Lesion Removal
Some surgical options require stitches while others don’t. If your physician chooses curettage or electrodesiccation to remove a lesion, stitches aren’t usually necessary. In these situations, the surgeon either applies a medication over the area to stop the bleeding or treats the location with cautery to seal the blood vessels shut.
Mohs surgery takes place about 850,000 times a year and is often preferred to treat certain skin cancers, as it does less damage to the healthy skin around the lesion. The surgeon will remove thin layers of skin one at a time and evaluate them under a microscope. As layers reveal cancer cells, the surgeon will continue to remove layers of skin until only cancer-free tissue is left.
Lesion removal with excision can be more invasive than Mohs surgery. It removes lesions from deep within the skin, potentially down to the fatty layer beneath the skin. If there is any concern of skin cancer, the surgeon may also remove a small amount of tissue around the lesion to set up a clear margin. The surgeon may use stitches and sutures to seal the open skin shut.
Recovery Expectations After Skin Lesion Removal
Once your procedure is finished, you may be required to wait at the facility until any sedatives you received wear off. If you had a sedative, you would typically need someone else to drive you home. If the physician used localized numbing, your physician may release you to drive.
Your doctor will have guidance on how to care for the wound and to address any pain you might have. It’s normal to feel some discomfort and pain. You may be advised to take over-the-counter painkillers or the doctor may give you a prescription.
Your wound may need one to two weeks to heal. If dissolvable stitches were used, these disappear between seven to 10 days, while non-dissolvable are removed between eight to 16 days after the procedure. You should keep the wound dry for 24 hours after the procedure and keep the dressing clean and dry.
After removal of lesions, you should avoid activities that stretch or pull on the treated area. Avoid swimming pools, hot tubs or situations where unknown bacteria or germs could enter the open wound. Small wounds tend to heal quickly, but don’t rush the process.
Experience Quality Skin Lesion Removal
For those needing skin lesion removal surgery, our team at Arizona Premier Surgery offers a comfortable and professional experience. We deliver exceptional care through our use of innovative technologies and state-of-the-art equipment. Contact our practice to find out more about your surgical options.