This factsheet is for people who are having a skin lesion removed by our doctor, or who would like information about it.

Skin lesions are lumps or bumps such as moles, cysts, warts or skin tags. They can be removed from the skin using chemical and surgical procedures.

You will meet our doctor carrying out your procedure to discuss your care. It may differ from what is described here as it will be designed to meet your individual needs.

  • About skin lesion removal
  • Preparing for skin lesion removal
  • What happens during skin lesion removal
  • What to expect afterwards
  • Recovering from skin lesion removal
  • What are the risks?

About skin lesion removal


Most skin lesions don’t cause serious problems, but you may want to have them removed for practical or cosmetic reasons.

Different methods of removal are used depending on what type of skin lesion you have. Some, such as benign (non-cancerous) warts, can be treated with non-surgical procedures. Larger skin lesions or ones that needs a precise removal may need to be surgically removed.

Our doctor may advise you to have surgery if you have a skin lesion that shows any sign of turning cancerous (for example, a mole that has changed shape or colour). The removed tissue will be sent to a laboratory to examine the type of cells and determine whether the lesion is benign or cancerous.

Preparing for skin lesion removal


Skin lesion removal is usually done as an outpatient procedure. This means you have the procedure and go home the same day.

Depending on the size of the lesion and whereabouts it is on your body, skin lesions can be removed at your doctor’s surgery or at a hospital. Skin lesion removal is usually done under local anaesthesia. This blocks pain from the area, but you may still be able to feel some movement. You will stay awake during the procedure.

What happens during skin lesion removal


The technique that our doctor uses to remove the lesion depends on factors such as its size and whereabouts on your body it is. Our doctor will advise which method is most appropriate for you.

  • Some lesions can be shaved down to the level of your surrounding skin, using a surgical blade.
  • Skin tags may be simply snipped off with surgical scissors.
  • Other lesions, such as suspected skin cancer, can be cut out entirely and the wound closed with stitches.

Our doctor will apply a dressing to the wound if necessary but some wounds heal better if they are left uncovered.

What to expect afterwards


You will be able to go home when you feel ready.

Our doctor will give you some advice about caring for your healing wound before you go home.

Recovering from skin lesion removal


Your wound may take one to two weeks to heal depending on whereabouts on your body it is and your age and general health.

Dissolvable stitches will disappear on their own in seven to 10 days. Non-dissolvable stitches are removed a week after surgery.

What are the risks?


Skin lesion removal is commonly performed and generally safe. However, in order to make an informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications of this procedure.

Side-effects

These are the unwanted, but mostly temporary effects of a successful treatment.

A skin wound will usually leave a scar. How big and noticeable this is depends on how much of your skin is removed. Ask our doctor about how much scarring to expect after your treatment. Most scars fade significantly over the first few weeks.

Complications

This is when problems occur during or after the operation. Most people aren’t affected.

After having a skin lesion removed, there’s a small risk you may develop an infection.

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