aka Skin Surgery

An excision is the surgical removal of a benign or malignant growth. In most cases, a football-shaped area of skin is removed around a growth, but for some benign growths only a small slit or opening is required to remove an underlying lump or bump like a lipoma or cyst. The opening is then stitched together and the growth is sent to a lab for definitive diagnosis under a microscope.

Why would an excision be performed?

Excisions remove benign or malignant growths from the body. Benign growths include lipomas or collections of fat beneath the skin or cysts. Excisions for malignant growths include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

How long does it take to recover after an excision?

For surgical excisions on the face, sutures remain in place for about 7 days, while sutures for excisions on the chest, back, arms and legs remain for 10-14 days. The sutures provide support to the healing wound and it is best to prevent them from snapping by avoiding heavy lifting, exercise or overly strenuous activity. Avoiding tension on the suture and the wound is important for proper wound healing.

What can I expect during an excision?

Prior to the excision the site for removal is marked with a pen, cleansed and numbed with lidocaine. The area is then re-cleansed and sterile towels or drapes are placed around the excision site. The marked area is then removed with a scalpel, scissors or surgical instrument and placed in a specimen bottle to be sent to the lab for diagnosis and to ensure it has been removed in its entirety. The wound is then closed with stitches sometimes underneath the skin that absorbed over 2-3 months and stitches on the surface layer of skin that are removed in 1-2 weeks.

Do I need a biopsy before an excision?

For most malignant growths, a biopsy has previously been performed to get a definitive diagnosis. For benign growths oftentimes no pre-excision biopsy is required.

What are possible risks associated with excision?

Even the most skilled surgeon can not cut the skin without leaving a scar. Scarring is always a side effect of an excision. Swelling, soreness and bruising are common side effects of an excision, but are well tolerated by most patients. Bleeding is common during the surgical procedures and rarely can occur after the procedures. Infection, allergic reaction to numbing/sutures/bandages can occur. In rare instances healing can be an issue.