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A shave excision is a simple procedure that your doctor can use to remove growths, such as moles, lesions, and tumors, from your skin. The primary tool used in this procedure is a sharp razor. You doctor may use also use an electrode to feather the edges of the excision site to make the scar less noticeable.
Once they’ve removed the growth, your doctor may send it to a laboratory for analysis. This can help them learn whether it’s cancerous.
If you have a skin growth that you want removed, or your doctor suspects a growth may be cancerous, they may recommend a shave excision. This simple procedure is less invasive and expensive to perform than a full-thickness skin excision. A full-thickness skin excision requires sutures, or stitches, while a shave excision doesn’t. As a result, a shave excision typically produces a less noticeable scar.
A shave excision is usually performed using local anesthesia, which ensures that you feel no pain during the procedure.
To perform a shave excision, your doctor will likely follow these steps:
If your doctor suspects the growth may be cancerous, they will send it to a laboratory for testing. They will contact you with the test results when they’re available.
In the meantime, they’ll likely ask you to keep the excision site dry for 24 hours, and they’ll provide you with instructions about when to remove or change the bandage. While it’s healing, you should keep the site covered when you’re in bright sunlight, as a sunburn can permanently darken the wound, making the scar more noticeable.
You may feel some discomfort or a burning sensation where the growth was removed. You can take over-the-counter painkillers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve discomfort. Your doctor may also advise you to apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound to promote healing.
The excision site may be red for a few weeks, but it will gradually get lighter. Try to be patient; the healing process can be slow. If you notice excessive scarring or signs of infection developing, call your doctor.
Your doctor may send the growth to a laboratory for analysis to determine whether it’s noncancerous, or benign. Benign growths include:
Alternately, your doctor may learn that the growth is cancerous, or malignant. In this case, they will recommend follow-up steps. For example, they may refer you to a skin cancer specialist for treatment.
Some bleeding may occur after a shave excision. If this happens, press on the wound firmly with a sterile bandage or dressing for 20 to 30 minutes. Contact your doctor if it bleeds for more than 30 minutes.
You can also expect some scarring to develop at the excision site. You may be able to lighten the appearance of your scar by applying:
These products are available at many drug stores. If you notice a hard, raised, or dome-shaped scar developing, call your doctor.
Infection is rare but can occur. Call your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms of infection:
Sometimes tumors or growths come back after a shave excision. Call your doctor if you suspect your growth is returning.
Written by: Natalie Phillips
Medically reviewed on: Aug 25, 2016: University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine
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