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Excision of Skin Lesions

Skin lesion removal is the surgical removal of a growth on the skin for medical or cosmetic reasons. Skin lesions can include, warts, skin tags, moles and skin cancers.

There are different reasons why you may need lesion removal. These include necessity, when a lesion is precancerous or cancerous and is removed as a matter of priority. In some cases, lesions cannot be diagnosed clinically and need to be removed to be examined under a microscope in order to make a diagnosis. Benign lesions may be removed if they are situated somewhere where irritation may occur, or patients may wish to have a lesion removed for cosmetic reasons.

Precancerous Lesions

Precancerous skin lesions refer to various dermatological growths that over time, present an increased risk of developing into skin cancer.

A Consultant will determine if these lesions are precancerous and if so, will recommend surgical excision as the best course of treatment to prevent a possible malignant transformation.

Typical examples of these include lentigo maligna which may develop into malignant melanoma, and acitinic keratosis which might develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

Cancerous Lesions

Cancerous lesions including malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, often start as changes to your skin. They can be new growths or precancerous lesions- changes which are not cancer but could become cancerous over time. Any mole which is evolving- shrinking, growing larger, changing colour or beginning to itch or bleed- should be checked by a Dermatologist. Melanoma lesions often grow in size or change in height rapidly

Benign Lesions

The majority of skin lesions are benign but when a new mole or mark appears on our skin, it can be difficult to tell whether it is dangerous.

Benign lesions may be unsightly but do not present any health risk to the patient. Patients may opt to have these lesions removed for cosmetic reasons.

Any mark or lesion that is new or is changing should always be checked by a Dermatologist to determine whether further treatment is required.

Examples of benign lesions include seborrheic keratosis, skin tags, dermatofibroma, sebaceous hyperplasia, lipoma and milia or tiny epidermoid cysts.

Lesion Removal Procedure

At Belfast Skin Clinic, all surgical removal of lesions is done under local anaesthetic, meaning the patient will be able to go home on the same day as having their procedure.

There are a number of techniques available for lesion removal and these may vary on the lesion location and the patient’s reason for having the procedure done. Your Consultant will discuss with you which will be the most appropriate for your individual case.

Excision with scalpel– the lesion is cut away with a surgical scalpel

Laser– this may be used for some types of lesion removal such as angiomas and sun damage spots

Cryotherapy-liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and remove the lesion

Curettage- involves scraping of the skin with a circular cutting loop

Mohs Micrographic Surgery (link to Mohs page currently on site)

Most lesion removal will be completed within 30 minutes but this may vary depending on the individual and the type of lesion being removed. For larger excisions, grafts or flaps (moving skin to cover the defect) will take longer and Mohs surgery also takes several hours.

If sutures are necessary to close the wound, absorbable sutures may be used which do not need to be removed. Non-absorbable sutures are usually removed 5-14 days after surgery depending on the surgical site.