Even with all the advances in technology that have revolutionized cosmetic and medical dermatology with non-invasive treatments such as laser therapy, there are times when a more traditional surgical procedure is the best option. West Dermatology, always a pioneer in utilizing state-of-the-art techniques, also specializes in excisional surgery for a variety of skin conditions, both medical and cosmetic.
For information on whether excisional surgery is right for you, contact West Dermatology by filling out our online contact form or calling 888-554-8740 and receive skin treatment that is right for you.
What is Excisional Surgery?
Excisional surgery is performed for a variety of reasons. Cosmetically, this surgery removes moles, warts, benign tumors, cysts, and other skin lesions. Medically, a physician may perform this as a diagnostic skin biopsy on a suspected malignant tumor or unidentified lesion. If a diagnosis has already found that your skin lesion is basal or squamous cell carcinoma or the more dangerous melanoma, then a surgical excision is to remove skin cancer from your body and perhaps save your life.
How Does Excisional Surgery Work?
You’ll be administered a local anesthetic before your practitioner removes the targeted growth with a surgical scalpel or razor. A smaller piece of normal skin surrounding the growth is also lifted out to ensure that the entire growth has been removed. The resulting wound will be closed with sutures, which will dissolve over the ensuing weeks and/or need to be removed in a week. An antibiotic ointment is usually applied to the affected area(s) to support the healing process. The removed specimen is analyzed in a laboratory to find out whether or not it is malignant and if has been completely removed.
Excisional Biopsy v. Shave Excision
Sometimes, a less-invasive shave excision may be recommended in lieu of a full-thickness surgical excision. Shave excisions are simpler procedures that require no stitches for healing. Generally, because this procedure shaves the skin, injury to the skin is minimized, resulting in a scar that is less noticeable, as well.
But which one is better?
In a regular excisional surgical procedure, the entire growth is removed, which has several advantages. First, full removal is the best way to determine whether or not, for example, a melanoma has developed within a pre-existing mole. Second, it’s more efficient. For example, if you have a shave procedure done only to find out you have a cancerous growth, you may have to undergo another procedure – this time, a full excisional surgery. Third, if the mole has indeed developed cancerous properties, a full excisional surgery will allow your physician to know how deep and widespread the malignancy is, important because depth and breadth of a melanoma are the best predictors of the necessity for addition treatments or diagnostic tests and even your survival.
The less-invasive shave excision does not provide this type of information. Shave biopsies are practical when going deep into the skin to get an accurate diagnosis is unnecessary. Surface lesions and growths are the best candidates for the less-invasive shave excision.
In the end, neither surgery is “better.” While there are plenty of advantages to having an excisional procedure done, it’s not always necessary. That is why it is best to have your expert West dermatologic surgeon discuss treatment options with you. Learn more about skin cancer surgery at WebMD.com.
Excisional Surgery Complications
As safe and effective as excisional surgery can be, it’s still an invasive procedure, and you should expect side effects.
- Pain – Although many people experience little post-op discomfort, some people do feel pain. An over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol is usually sufficient, although a stronger pain medication can be prescribed.
- Bruising and Swelling – These are common after surgery and usually disappear within days.
- Numbness – Occasionally, patients report numbness around the affected area, which could persist for several weeks or even months. In rare cases, the numbness is permanent. If you experience persistent, prolonged numbness, discuss it with your physician.
- Scarring – It’s almost certain that scarring will result, but if you take proper care of your wound, it will not be as noticeable once it heals in several months.
- Infection/Bleeding – Both infection and significant bleeding are not to be expected. It’s not unusual to develop redness or swelling around the surgical site. And while some post-op bleeding is to be expected, it can usually be managed with a pressure bandage that allows the wound to heal properly. However, if any redness, swelling, or bleeding persists or increases, contact West Dermatology immediately.
For a week to 10 days after your surgery, sometimes longer, you should take it easy. Ease back into your exercise or workout routine. Limit your travel, as well. When you come back to West Dermatology for your post-op follow-up, you and your specialist can discuss whether or not you need a follow-up procedure.
Even if you don’t need a subsequent surgical excision, it might be a good idea to have a different, more cosmetic procedure done, such as one of our laser therapies to reduce the visibility of your scars. Speak with your skin care team at West Dermatology or Cosmetic Laser Dermatology about these and other alternatives.
Contact West Dermatology for More about Excisional Surgery
If warts, moles, cysts, or other benign skin lesions are affecting your self-esteem; if you have a suspicious skin growth that you’d like to have diagnosed; or if you have a malignant skin tumor, excisional surgery might the best answer for you. Contact West Dermatology today for answers to these or other skin issues through an insightful consultation.
Next, read about Mohs Surgery.