28 Jun, 2024

Should You Get That Skin Lesion Removed? A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment Options

We all have them – those little bumps, blemishes, or
discolorations on our skin. Often harmless, these are called skin
lesions. But how do you know when a lesion is simply a
cosmetic concern, and when it might warrant removal?

This guide explores the different types of skin lesions, removal
options, and aftercare to help you make informed decisions
about your skin health.

 

Understanding Skin Lesions: A Menagerie of Bumps and Blemishes

Skin lesions are localised changes in the texture, colour, or growth of your skin. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, and can be caused by anything from sun damage to viral infections. 

Here are some common types:

  • Moles: these pigmented spots are usually brown or black and can be flat, raised, or irregular in shape. While most moles are harmless, any changes in size, colour, or shape should be evaluated by a plastic surgeon or dermatologist 
  • Warts: these rough, cauliflower-like growths are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are contagious and can appear anywhere on the body, but commonly on the hands and feet
  • Cysts: these non-cancerous, sac-like bumps are filled with fluid, keratin (a protein in skin and hair), or sebum (an oily substance). They can appear anywhere on the body but are common on the scalp, face, and back
  • Sebaceous hyperplasia: these small, yellowish bumps are benign growths of oil glands. They are most commonly seen on the face and chest in older adults
  • Skin tags: these soft, skin-coloured growths hang from the skin by a narrow stalk. They are very common and typically appear on the neck, armpits, or groin

 

Weighing Your Options: Removal Methods for Skin Lesions

If you’re considering removing a skin lesion, several factors come into play – the type of lesion, its location, and your cosmetic concerns. Here’s a breakdown of some common removal methods:

Surgical Excision: this is the most traditional method, involving a scalpel or surgical instrument to remove the entire lesion and a margin of healthy surrounding tissue. Stitches are often used to close the wound

  • Pros: effective for all types of lesions, allows for complete removal and tissue examination for cancer diagnosis
  • Cons: leaves scars, requires local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia depending on the size and location of the lesion, recovery time varies depending on the procedure

Curettage: This involves scraping the surface of the lesion under local anaesthetic. Often used for superficial large lesions such as sebaceous keratosis often seen in the elderly.

Pros: large lesions can be managed well, the resulting raw area is allowed to heal spontaneously without sutures, 

Cons: no histology is possible.

Cryotherapy: This method uses liquid nitrogen or liquid nitrous oxide to freeze and destroy the lesion. It is most effective for small, benign lesions.

  • Pros: Minimally invasive, often done in-office with minimal discomfort, leaves little to no scarring.
  • Cons: Not suitable for all lesions, may require multiple treatments, possibility of hypopigmentation (lighter skin) at the treated area.

Laser Treatment: Lasers offer precise removal with minimal bleeding. Different types of lasers are used depending on the type and location of the lesion.

  • Pros: Minimally invasive, often done in-office, good for precise removal and achieving a smoother cosmetic outcome.
  • Cons: Can be more expensive than other methods, not available in all clinics, suitable for all lesions, may require multiple treatments.

The Right Choice for You: Discussing your options with a board-certified plastic surgeon will help determine the best removal method for your specific situation. They will consider the type of lesion, its size and location, and your desired cosmetic outcome.

 

Aftercare: Minimising Scars and Ensuring Healing

Proper aftercare is crucial for optimal healing and minimising scar formation. Here’s what to expect and how to promote healing:

  • Bandages and dressings: Following removal, the area will likely be bandaged for protection. Follow your surgeon’s instructions for dressing changes and wound cleaning.
  • Minimising swelling and discomfort: Cold compresses can help reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Scar management: Silicone gel sheets or scar creams may be recommended to help flatten and soften scars.

Sun Protection and Self-Skin Checks: Safeguarding Your Skin

Sun damage is a major contributor to skin lesions, including pre-cancerous growths. Here are some key steps to protect your skin:

  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher daily, even on cloudy days. Reapply every two hours, or more often if sweating or swimming.
  • Sun-protective clothing: Seek shade during peak sun hours (10 am to 4 pm) and wear protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves.
  • Self-skin checks: Regularly examine your skin for any new or changing lesions. Look for changes in size, shape, colour, or bleeding.

Skin lesions are common, and knowing when to seek professional advice is crucial. A board-certified plastic surgeon such as Mr. Erdmann can diagnose your lesion, recommend the most appropriate removal method, and guide you through aftercare. 

By prioritising sun protection and self-skin checks, you can take charge of your skin health and minimise the risk of future lesions.

Remember

This article provides general information and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment specific to your situation.

Related post