Other Surgical Procedures
Certain skin cancers are superficial and may be treatable by using a special instrument known as a curette to remove the cancerous cells from the skin surface. This is a very common treatment method that is both quick and effective. This skin is numbed so the procedure is painless and, because the treatment is superficial, it does not require stitches and heals fairly rapidly.
Precancers, certain skin cancers, warts and other skin lesions are commonly treated with a cold substance known as liquid nitrogen which is sprayed onto the skin. The skin is not typically numb during this procedure so there is some degree of discomfort for the patient. However, it is also a superficial treatment and involves no cutting of the skin so healing is generally rapid.
Many skin growths are treatable by standard surgical excision including skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma), atypical moles, cysts, lipomas, etc. These surgeries are performed in our office under local anesthesia and typically involve the excision of the lesion as well as a "margin" of normal skin around the growth to ensure complete removal. The amount of normal skin removed during the procedure is dependent upon the particular diagnosis. Most often, the wound is closed with stitches or special medical glue to allow for faster healing and improved appearance of the scar. The tissue removed during this surgery will be sent to a lab to be evaluated by a pathologist and it may take 1-2 weeks before we receive results.
In some instances, your doctor may recommend treatment with one of several available topical treatments (5-flourouracil, imiquimod, etc). These medicines may be effective for certain precancers or early skin cancers. They typically require several weeks of use and result in significant inflammation during the course of treatment. However, they may treat these lesions without leaving a scar since they avoid cutting on the skin.
One of the newest forms of treatment for precancers and superficial skin cancers is photodynamic or "blue light" therapy. This non-surgical treatment is performed in the office and takes approximately two hours. A topical medicine is applied to the area and then a special light is used to activate the medicine which treats the abnormal cells. It is important to note that patients remain very sensitive to sunlight for 48 hours following treatment and may develop inflammation of the skin lasting for several weeks.