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    Dermatologists perform excisions to definitively remove a skin growth. They are often performed after a biopsy has already confirmed the existence of a skin cancer, but excisions may also be performed to remove a cyst or lipoma without a preceding biopsy. The procedure takes approximately forty-five minutes, and it isn’t very difficult or painful. Afterward, most patients report it was easier than going to the dentist.

    First, the dermatologist injects some lidocaine around the growth to numb the area. You feel some pinching and stinging, but that rapidly dissipates. Then, the dermatologist removes the growth and a small moat of normal looking skin around it with a scalpel. You do not feel this part of the procedure. The shape of the moat is usually elliptical, not circular, in order to allow the skin edges to come together in a flat, pleasing fashion.

    The dermatologist then places sutures to pull the edges of the skin together. Absorbable sutures are placed underneath the skin, and they will dissolve with time. A second layer of non-absorbable sutures is placed on the skin surface, and these sutures are typically removed in two weeks.

    The skin specimen is sent to the pathologist to confirm what the lesion is and, if cancer, to confirm that it has been entirely removed. Pathologists usually deliver their results within a week. Call your dermatologist if you have not received your results within two weeks.

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