Your dermatologist has a lot of options available for treating skin growths, but none is more effective than a surgical treatment. When a growth or lesion threatens your health, the surgical option is recommended.
For a lot of cosmetic skin problems, dermatologists recommend non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures first. This gives you time to try things that might deliver results without adding risks from invasive surgeries and requiring recovery time. But when your doctor determines that a skin growth is malignant, or even has the potential to become malignant, they don’t want to lose a single moment. Malignant skin growths are anything your dermatologist finds to be cancerous or could possibly become cancerous. Common skin cancers such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma may be forewarned by precancerous lesions and growths, as well as other health changes.
A common skin growth called actinic keratosis can occur before a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. AKs are usually caused by years of accumulated sun damage and are usually flat, discolored patches of dry or rough skin. AKs can be raised in some cases and appear in multiple patches.
A newly formed or changing mole can sometimes be a sign of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. It’s important to check your skin regularly for new or evolving moles. While some moles are harmless, it’s best to seek your dermatologist’s advice early to avoid the development and spreading of melanoma, which can prove fatal.
Sometimes you won’t notice any changes to your skin before a malignant growth forms. Occasionally, however, changes to your nails, hearing, or vision can all be signs that the potential skin cancer is developing. Inspect your nails for signs of pitting, cracking, or discoloration. Your hearing and vision may deteriorate if the skin within the ear or on the eyelid is affected by precancerous or cancerous growths that you may not be able to see.
The main scenario for treating skin growths with surgery first is when cancer is at all suspected. In many cases, a doctor cannot tell if a growth or lesion is cancerous until they perform a biopsy. A biopsy is when a scraping or piece of affected tissue is removed and analyzed. If your biopsy returns cancer or indicates that skin cancer can develop, your dermatologist will not hesitate to suggest the following surgical options.
Mohs is the least invasive form of skin cancer removal surgery because it does not involve general anesthesia. Mohs is used on early forms of skin cancer or in places where skin is thin, such as the eyelid or lip. Mohs surgery is fairly simple. A layer of skin is removed and analyzed. If the skin still appears cancerous, the next layer is removed and analyzed. This process is repeated until the cancer is gone. Mohs micrographic surgery is not often used for more aggressive forms of cancer like melanoma.
Surgical excisions are more invasive than Mohs, but not necessarily by much. If your dermatologist determines that the cancer is not too deep, they may be able to remove it with shave or snip excisions. These methods try to remove as little skin as necessary and are often used for benign skin conditions as well. While benign conditions are not nearly as dangerous as cancer, they can still cause cosmetic issues and health complications. Growths like cysts often need to be removed surgically to prevent them from re-forming.
A true, surgical excision is an invasive procedure that seeks to remove any and all cancerous or otherwise harmful tissue from your body at once. Some surgical excisions require general anesthetics and most surgical excisions will need stitches. For advanced cases of skin cancer or melanoma at any stage, a surgical excision will be your dermatologist’s best bet for removing the cancer. There is usually recovery time with a process like this, as the wound may need maintenance with bandages or sutures. Stitches sometimes need to be removed as these wounds heal.
Ultimately, surgery for the removal of skin growths is the most effective way to prevent health problems. Your health is important, and caution is pivotal when looking at skin growths. If you have skin cancer or precancerous skin conditions, do not hesitate to call your New England dermatologist.