Removal or biopsy of skin lesion

What is this?

Complete removal or incision and biopsy of a lesion on the skin

What alternatives are there?

Observation, topical treatments (If appropriate)

What to expect before procedure

You will usually be admitted on the same day as your surgery. You will normally receive an appointment for pre-assessment, approximately 14 days before your admission, to assess your general fitness, to screen for the carriage of MRSA and to perform some baseline investigations. After admission, you will be seen by members of the medical team which may include the Consultant, Specialist Registrar, House Officer and your named nurse. If you are having a general anaesthetic, you will be asked not to eat or drink for 6 hours before surgery and, immediately before the operation, you may be given a pre-medication by the anaesthetist which will make you dry-mouthed and pleasantly sleepy.

What happens during the procedure?

Normally, a full general anaesthetic will be used and you will be asleep throughout the procedure; local anaesthetic is often used as well to reduce any discomfort. In some patients, local anaesthetic injection alone may be used or the anaesthetist may prefer to use a spinal anaesthetic which leaves you fully awake yet unable to feel anything from the waist down. All methods minimise post-operative pain. The lesion is cut out using a scalpel or heat diathermy and sutures are usually used to close the incision. Occasionally, a biopsy needle will be used to obtain tissue for analysis without the need for an incision.

After the procedure

The local anaesthetic wears off after 1-2 hours to leave slight discomfort. Simple painkillers will usually relieve this discomfort. The average hospital stay is less than 1 day.

Potential side effects