Excision

The tumor along with a margin of normal appearing skin is marked with a sterile marking pen. The area is numbed with lidocaine (Xylocaine) and adrenaline using tiny needles. The tumor is cut out with a scalpel and almost always stitched together. The removed skin is sent to a laboratory and examined to ensure that the entire tumor has been removed.

Sometimes all dissoluble stitches are used, otherwise sutures are generally removed within 7 to 14 days depending upon what area of the body the cancer is. There is usually minimal discomfort after the procedure. The pathology results may take up to 10 days and rarely longer.

This treatment is up to 95% effective for the treatment of nodular basal cell carcinoma, superficial basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma.

Will I get a scar after having an excision?

Yes. You will always get a scar after a surgical excision. 

What affects how well or poorly I will heal after the surgery?

  1. The surgeon. How the site is stitched, especially under the surface of the skin, will greatly affect how things will look. If surface stitches are left in too long, one will get more scarring. If surface sutures are too tight, one will get little scars where they are placed. Choosing the right surgeon will make a huge difference in your final appearance
  2. Infection. If one gets infected after the procedure, they are likely to get more scarring. There are things that one can do to minimize the risks of infection that you should discuss with your surgeon.
  3. Movement at the surgical site after surgery. The more tension that is put on the scar after surgery, the thicker the scar can be or wider. It is very important to limit any movement of the scar for 2 to 4 weeks–the longer the better. Sometimes a brace or splint is used after surgery when the surgery is at or adjacent to a joint in which the skin moves often.
  4. Other things that can help: The use of silicone gel sheets, not topical gel, can be helpful in reducing the risk of scar, especially on the mid chest and shoulders. You should discuss this with  your surgeon before your surgery.

Robert S. Bader, M.D., Dermatologist

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