MINOR SKIN SURGERY

Skin incision
A cut made in the skin either for operations such as scar revision or to remove lumps from beneath the skin such as a sebaceous cyst or lipoma. The cut is usually a little longer than any underlying lump to allow its complete removal. Stitches will be required.

Skin excision
Skin lesions such as moles or skin tumours which require biopsy (see below) are removed with a margin of 1-2mm to ensure complete removal. It is usual to cut out the area as an ellipse which ensures a smooth flat scar after the stitches have been inserted in the scar. The scar will, however, be 3-4 times the length of the original skin lesion. In some areas such as the back and shoulder where poor quality scars are common (see below), I prefer to remove skin lesions as a circle and then allow them to heal without stitches.

Skin shave
Some lesions which are considered to be benign are suitable to be shaved off, the base being cauterised (electrical sealing). No stitches are used.

Biopsy
The removal of tissue for examination under a microscope by a Pathologist. Results become available in 7-10 days. Tissue for examination can be obtained by any of the techniques mentioned above.

Management
Many wounds in exposed areas such as the face will be left uncovered after the operation. A plaster will be applied to other areas to avoid rubbing but this can be removed after 48 hours. At this stage most wounds are watertight and can become wet in the bath or shower. Plasters do not protect against infection and fresh air and water is healthier than a dirty, sweaty plaster. Please do not apply antiseptics such as Dettol or Savlon to the wound.

Moisturiser
Natural oil production in the skin is disturbed by surgery and the skin around wounds often becomes dry and flakes. After 48 hours, it is helpful to apply small amounts of moisturising cream, particularly after bathing.

Complications
Any operation can be complicated by infection and bleeding. If you notice increased pain, swelling or redness in the area around the wound, please contact my rooms or your local doctor. Swelling and bruising around the face may be noted for 48-72 hours after a minor skin excision.

Scarring
All operations leave a permanent scar. The type of scar is dependent on age, race and site of surgery. If you have scarred poorly from previous surgery this may indicate that you form poor scars.

Scars are often lumpy and red when immature and may look worse at about three months after surgery. This is a reflection of normal healing. Maturation takes 12-24 months depending on age and skin type and during this time the pinkness and firmness of the scar gradually settles. This process can be helped by massaging the wound firmly with a moisturising cream.

Some areas are more prone to form poor scars such as the front of the chest, shoulder and neck. Wounds under tension such as on the back or over joints can stretch in the months after the stitches have been removed.

Stitches
Areas with a good blood supply such as the face heal quickly whereas others such as the leg heal more slowly. The timing of stitch removal therefore varies being 5-7 days on the face and 14-21 days on the body.