Skin Lesion Removal
What surgery do I require for my skin cancer / skin lesion?


Many skin lesions are removed under local anaesthestic (you remain awake during the whole procedure). The area surrounding the skin lesion is anaesthetised (made numb) so no pain is felt. The surgeon removes a small additional cuff of normal tissue surrounding the lesion to ensure complete removal of the lesion. The wound can be stitched together or covered with a skin graft or flap of adjacent skin. Alternatively, your surgeon may recommend MOHS (refer to “micrographic surgery”), which is also performed under local anaesthesia.

General anaesthesia may be required to remove and reconstruct more extensive skin cancers or if additional surgery is necessary, eg to remove lymph nodes.

What happens after the operation?
  • Stitches / Dressings – The stitches used to close the skin may require removal or they may dissolve spontaneously. Depending on the site of the surgery, a dressing may be placed over the stitches. Try to keep the area dry for first 24 hrs after the operation. You can take a shower but gently pat the area dry.
  • Pain / Swelling – There will be mild pain once the local anesthetic wears off. Please take the painkillers you normally use or the ones prescribed by the doctor. Severe pain is not expected after this type of surgery. There will be some swelling or bruising in the first few days followed by a variable period of recovery.
  • Going home – In most cases, you are expected to go home within two hours of the operation and return to work the next day. You should leave a dressing on the wound if you work in dusty or dirty environment.
  • What will the scar be like? – The scar is often noticeable for the first 3 to 6 months and then starts getting flatter and paler. Massaging the scar with a moisturizing cream two or three times a day in the first few months helps this healing process. The scar should be protected from direct exposure to sun during this early period.
  • What complications are associated with this surgery? – Bleeding from the wound is uncommon. If you have any bleeding it can usually be stopped by applying pressure over the area for 5 minutes using a clean dressing. If it does not stop after few attempts you should seek medical advice. Infection is also uncommon. Your surgeon will give an antibiotic ointment or tablets if he thinks there is a risk of infection following the operation.
  • Will I need return appointments? – If necessary, your surgeon will arrange removal of stitches 5 to 7 days after your surgery. Your surgeon may organise assessment of the skin lesion to the pathology service, which generally issues a diagnostic report after 1 to 2 weeks. Your surgeon will notify you of the result and advise whether any future treatment is required.

Would you like to arrange a consultation?
Our Practice Manager can assist you with any queries and with booking consultations.
Call us 09 630 2920
Email us
Contact Details
09 630 2923
© Auckland Head & Neck Specialists 2022