Skin lesions are growths under the skin (sebaceous cyst or lipoma) or on the skin surface (moles and skin cancers), usually only involving the full thickness of the skin layer.

Skin lesions cover a broad group of moles, cysts and lipomas (fatty tissue lumps). Moles are considered benign and non-cancerous and are often removed for cosmetic reasons.


Epidermal or sebaceous cysts are firm lumps under the skin that can sometimes drain a white, thick material, and can be foul smelling. These can become infected if they continue to drain. They are often due to ingrown hair follicles or some minor scrape to the skin that causes the external skin layer to be trapped under other skin. This skin continues to produce the normal skin oil which gets trapped and forms a cyst. Some areas are more prone to developing these cysts such as the scalp (pilar cysts) or back.

Lipomas are collection of fatty tissue under the skin that forms firm lumps. It's not known why these form and you can’t do anything to prevent them. They are benign, but large lipomas or those in sensitive areas can be bothersome.

Your Consultation

Your first step will be to have a detailed consultation with Dr MacDonald where she will listen to your goals and concerns and complete a careful examination. Then, Dr. MacDonald will discuss the treatment options that best address your concerns and particular situation.

Dr. MacDonald and her staff will:

  • Give you detail information about the surgery and what you can expect before, during, and after the procedure
  • Discuss any concerns or questions that you may have
  • Discuss potential risks of the procedure


Cyst/lipoma/mole excision is done under local freezing while you are awake. The sutures are dissolving, except in highly noticeable areas such as chest or face. If non-dissolving or removable stitches are used, they need to be taken out in 5-6 days in the face and all other areas 7-10 days. You will have a light dressing or Band-Aid with ointment applied.

You can eat and drink before the surgery.


Unless you have had hand surgery, you can drive after the surgery. You can shower 48 hours after surgery. Wound care is simply washing then applying ointment and a light dressing every one or two days. Normally no time off work is required for these surgeries unless it is in an area that may be come soiled while working or bothered by the job (i.e. hand surgery). You need to avoid activities that may increase your blood pressure for a minimum of 48 hours but ideally 1-2 weeks to allow optimal scar results.


As in any surgery, risks include infection, scarring, delayed wound healing, bruising or bleeding, incomplete excision, and recurrence. Complications in this procedure are relatively uncommon but will be discussed further at the time of consultation. Cyst recurrence is quite high.


The surgery suited best for you will be discussed at the time of consultation and Dr MacDonald’s assistant will e-mail you a detailed cost breakdown.