Skin Lesions/Moles

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, skin cancers, cysts, and lipomas (fatty tissue lumps). Moles are considered benign and non-cancerous and are often removed purely 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. Cysts are often created due to ingrown hair follicles or some minor scrape to the skin that causes the external skin layer to be trapped under the other skin. The layer continues to produce the normal skin oil which gets trapped under the skin and forms a cyst. Some areas are more prone to developing these cysts, such as scalp (pilar cysts) or back.

Lipomas are collections of fatty tissue under the skin that form firm lumps. We don’t know 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.

Surgery

Skin lesion excision is done under local freezing while you are awake. The sutures are dissolving except in highly noticeable areas such as the chest or face. If non-dissolving or removable stitches are used, they need to be taken out after 5-6 days if in the face or after 7-10 days if somewhere else. You will have a light dressing or Band-Aid with ointment applied and can eat and drink before the surgery.

Recovery

Unless you have had hand surgery, you can drive after the surgery. You can shower 48 hours after. Wound care is simply washing then applying ointment and a light dressing every 1 or 2 days.

Normally, no time off work is required for these surgeries unless it is in an area (i.e. the hand) that may become soiled while working or bothered by the job. You need to avoid activities that may increase your blood pressure for a minimum of 48 hours but ideally for 1-2 weeks to allow optimal scar results.

Complications

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