Skin Lesion Removal
There is a wide range of skin lesions that can be removed for both medical and cosmetic reasons. While removal of skin lesions is typically recommended if the lesion shows signs of possible malignancy such as changing color or shape, many of these lesions may still be harmless. Biopsies are performed on removed lesions to know for sure.
Various lesion types that may be removed by plastic surgeons include:
- Skin tags
Who should undergo skin lesion removal?
Often lesions that have not displayed any of the tell-tale cancerous signs will be treated initially with nonsurgical procedures such as medicines, creams, lotions or over-the-counter treatments. Lesions that do not respond to these treatments may then be treated as candidates for skin lesion removal.
Lesions that do show any of the cancerous signs will be removed surgically without trying nonsurgical procedures. In addition, some noncancerous lesions in sensitive or highly visible areas may also be surgically removed without trying nonsurgical methods in order to minimize scarring.
What happens during surgery?
Some warts and lesions may be removed through a freezing procedure that utilizes liquid nitrogen to remove the lesion and requires no anesthetic. Most other surgical removals require the use of local anesthetic to numb the area and guarantee patient comfort during the procedure. Depending on the size, severity and type of lesion to be removed, there are a number of procedures that may be used for removal.
The simplest procedures include the cutting of skin tags with surgical scissors and the shaving of noncancerous lesions down to the skin level. More serious surgeries include the removal of the lesion and the surrounding skin through surgical excision, laser therapy or photo-activated chemicals.
When removing a suspected cancerous lesion it is often critical to remove an entire barrier of healthy tissue around the lesion to ensure the cancer does not spread. More invasive procedures, such as Mohs surgery, involve the careful layer-by-layer removal of skin tissue, going as deep as necessary to ensure the entire lesion and a healthy barrier of tissue have been removed. Following a surgical procedure, simple incisions are closed with sutures, but larger surgical areas may be closed using skin grafts from other areas on the body.
What should I expect after surgery?
The area will be bandaged following surgery and may be swollen for the first few days. Regular stitches may be removed after about a week, and dissolvable stitches will disintegrate in 7-10 days.
Smaller removals may heal in 1-3 weeks, though larger removals may take longer to heal. There may be some pain in the surgical area, which may be treated with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Bruising and numbness may also result. Scarring will depend on the type of procedure performed, but should continue to diminish for 12-18 months.
It is important to protect the surgical area in the weeks following the procedure, particularly if it is in an easily impacted location. The surgical site should also not be stretched if possible to prevent the incisions from reopening. Makeup may not be applied to the area until it is fully healed. Specific recovery instructions for movement, activities and work will be given to you following the procedure.
The skin lesion removal procedure is extremely common and very safe, but there is a low risk of complications, including infection, scarring, bleeding and changes to sensitivity.
Andrews, Brian MDPlastic SurgeryLocations:
- The University of Kansas Hospital
- 4000 Cambridge St.
- Kansas City, KS 66160