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What is a benign skin lesion?
Benign skin lesion is an umbrella term for a range of lumps and bumps including moles, cysts, keratoses, skin tags, calluses, corns and warts.
What are the symptoms of benign skin lesions?
Each makes its own mark on the skin and can be unsightly, itchy or in extreme cases an obstacle to free movement or function.
When should I seek treatment for benign skin lesion?
Benign skin lesions are usually harmless and do not need to be removed. However, you may be advised to have a skin lesion removed if it interferes with your everyday life or it becomes cancerous.
You may also decide to have a skin lesion removed because you do not like the way that it looks – removal for cosmetic reasons is not funded by the NHS.
What does the treatment of benign skin lesions involve?
Treatment will depend on the size of the lesion, how deep it is and where it is on your body. Benign skin lesion removal takes place under local anaesthetic.
Depending on the benign skin lesion to be removed, you may experience one of the following procedures:
- Partial removal, where your surgeon ‘shaves’ the lesion off at its base so it is at the level of the surrounding skin. This may be combined with a technique called cautery which seals the skin and stops bleeding. This method is used for lesions such as keratosis, skin tags and ‘shallow’ moles.
- Complete removal, where the entire lesion is surgically removed. Your surgeon will remove the lesion and some of the tissue around it and you may need stitches afterwards. This is a technique used for larger moles or for lesions which are suspected to be cancerous.
- Freezing (which involves freezing off the lesion with liquid nitrogen). Also known as cryotherapy it can be used to remove warts, skin tags and keratosis. The liquid nitrogen is applied to the lesion for about 10 seconds. A blister will form which, when it falls off, will take the lesion with it
- Curettage is where your surgeon will gently scoop away the lesion and is generally used for warts. It is often combined with cryotherapy or cautery.
How long will the surgery take?
This depends on the technique being used and the extent of the lesion. You will be given an idea of how long your procedure will take at your pre-operation assessment.
How long will I be in hospital?
All benign skin lesion removal procedures are carried out as day cases, so there is no need for a stay in hospital
What are the results of benign skin lesion removal?
The area treated may be red and raised for a while. If you have had stitches we will advise you when to come back in to have them removed. Dissolvable stitches will usually disappear between 10 to 14 days after surgery. Pain is usually minimal and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relief.
Depending on the sort of lesion you have had removed and where it is on your body, your surgeon may advise you to avoid stretching the skin in the area where surgery has taken place while you still have stitches.
For 48 hours after surgery you will need to keep the wound dry, and then gently clean it daily after that. You may also need to keep the treated area of skin out of the sun.
Scarring should be minimal and should fade significantly after three months.
What are the risks and complications of a benign skin lesion removal?
Temporary side effects may include swelling, bruising and some pain. Complications are rare but may include infection (which can be treated with antibiotics), temporary damage to the nerves near the surface of the skin resulting in numbness or a burning sensation, unusually red or raised scars, or excessive bleeding.
If you experience any of these complications please contact the emergency post-care number we will have given you.
A pre-operative assessment is our opportunity to ensure that the procedure for which you have been referred is right for you. We’ll explain your treatment to you and make sure that you are well enough to go ahead with it. It is also your opportunity to meet the team who will care for you and to ask any questions.