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This is the removal of an abnormal growth on the skin, called a lesion, for medical or cosmetic reasons. Skin lesions can include
moles, cancers, and skin tags.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Generally, no special preparation is required.
Local anesthesia will be used. It will make the area numb.
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:
After the lesion is removed, stitches will be used to close the hole left in the skin. Clean stickers may also be used to help keep the skin closed. A bandage will be placed over the area.
This depends on which procedure is used. Most are completed within 20 minutes.
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.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water. 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 medication if necessary.
Stitches will be left in the skin for 3-14 days, depending on where they are located.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Dermatology
Skin Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Dermatology Association
Diagnostic tests for skin disorders. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/approach_to_the_dermatologic_patient/diagnostic_tests_for_skin_disorders.html. Updated September 2013. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 5, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Pickett H. Shave and punch biopsy for skin lesions. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(9):995-1002.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Am J Med.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
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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