The skin is susceptible to many diseases, discolorations, and growths. It may also be damaged by excessive exposure to the sun and the effects of aging. In most cases, skin problems requiring dermatologic surgery can be addressed in the dermatologist’s office or in an outpatient setting, usually under local anesthesia, with minimal pain, and low risk of complications. There are different types of skin surgeries enumerated below.
Types of Skin Surgery
Skin biopsy – Skin biopsies are performed to help with the diagnosis of your skin condition. Sometimes, different skin conditions can look similar to the naked eye so additional information is required. This is obtained by looking at the structure of the skin under the microscope after the cells have been stained with special coloured dyes.
Excision of skin lesions – A common reason why skin lesions are excised, is to fully remove skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma. If the cancer is not cut out it may spread to the surrounding skin and to other parts of the body (metastasise).
Curettage & cautery – Curettage and cautery or electrosurgery is a procedure in which your dermatologist scrapes off a skin lesion and applies heat to the skin surface.
Skin grafting – A skin graft consists of skin taken from another part of the body and applied to the site where skin is missing. This might follow surgical removal of a skin cancer or a burn. A skin graft is thus a skin transplant. Skin grafts are performed by surgeons (including plastic surgeons) and by some dermatologists.
Mohs microscopically controlled excision – Mohs Micrographic Surgery, an advanced treatment procedure for skin cancer, offers the highest potential for recovery—even if the skin cancer has been previously treated. This procedure is state-of-the-art treatment in which the physician serves as surgeon, pathologist and reconstructive surgeon.
Laser Skin Resurfacing – A laser is a high-energy beam of light that can selectively transfer its energy into tissue to treat the skin. The laser makes it possible to change tissue without making an incision. So a surgeon can treat birthmarks or damaged blood vessels, remove port wine stains, and shrink facial “spider veins” without major surgery.
Photodynamic therapy – Applying a chemical called aminolevulinic acid to the skin and exposing the skin to a special light source.
Topical chemotherapy – Applying a chemical such as 5-fluorouracil, diclofenac sodium, or imiquimod to destroy pre-cancerous growths and some cancerous lesions.
Radiation therapy – Using x-rays to destroy tissue in certain types of skin cancer, as well as in selected individuals for whom surgery is not possible.
Dermabrasion – Removing the outer layers of skin and softening irregular edges. After the skin is frozen with a spray medication, a high-speed, rotary abrasive wheel is used.
Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen) Applying or spraying liquid nitrogen onto the skin to freeze and destroy the tissue.
Precautions and care for Skin Surgery
Your skin growth will be removed surgically in the office and sent for microscopic examination to be certain it has been completely removed. Unless otherwise instructed, please eat normally and take all regularly prescribed medications.
After surgery, most patients may resume their usual activities; sometimes, there are temporary restrictions on sports, dancing, or other physical activity.
Aspirin makes people bleed more easily, and we prefer that patients not take it for seven days before surgery and for two days after surgery.
If you are taking aspirin, or a medicine containing aspirin, on your own, please stop it for seven days before surgery.
Antibiotics – People who have had hip replacements, have artificial heart valves, or who have mitral valve prolapse often have to take antibiotics before dental procedures.
In the medical literature, most studies show antibiotics are not needed before and after skin surgery. The best thing to do is to check with the doctor who has implanted one of the above devices or the doctor who sees you for this problem.
Stitches (sutures) are used to close the wound after surgery. The type of stitch we use depends on the surgery and your skin. Stitches that need removal are usually taken out 7 to 14 days after surgery. Stitch removal and takes only a few minutes.