SHAVE BIOPSY (or "tangential excision") slices a surface growth off using a blade. A "curette" does a similar task with a special scraping tool. These are often done to remove a small growth and confirm its nature at the same time.
PUNCH BIOPSY is typically used by dermatologists to sample skin rashes and small growths. After a local anesthetic is injected, a biopsy punch, which is basically a small (1 to 4 mm diameter) version of a cookie cutter, is used to cut out a cylindrical piece of skin. The hole may be closed with a suture and heals with minimal scarring.
UVB PHOTOTHERAPY is a treatment for skin eruptions using artificial ultraviolet light. The initials UVB stand for the type B ultraviolet, the part of sunlight that gives one sunburn. Carefully controlled, it is an extremely effective tool for significant skin disease.
ELECTRODESICCATION AND CURETTAGE (ED&C) Scraping or burning-off skin growths (also known as electrodesiccation and curettage) can be used for less serious skin cancers, pre-cancers and benign growths. A local anesthetic is injected, and then the abnormal tissue is scraped off with a special tool. The area is then cauterized until bleeding stops. This may be repeated if the growth is cancerous. The wound will need to be dressed until it heals, and it usually leaves a small white.
CRYOSURGERY (CRYOTHERAPY) is used frequently by dermatologist to treat many skin problems. Liquid nitrogen is sprayed on to the area of skin freezing it. Light freezing causes a peeling, moderate freezing a blistering and hard freezing a scabbing. It is used for acne, scars, growths and some skin cancers. Older dermatologists still use a swab to apply it, but the result is the same.
ACNE SURGERY is the removing of acne lesions, usually by opening up comedones (blackheads) and pimples by using a needle or small pointed blade and expressing the lesions with an extractor.
Moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (vascular lesions, such as strawberry hemangiomas or port wine stains). Though most birthmarks are harmless, they may develop into cancer. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a professional immediately:
- Larger than six millimeters,
- Itches or bleeds,
- Rapidly changes in color, size or shape,
- Have multiple colors, and/or
- Is located where it can't be easily monitored, such as on the scalp.
Depending on their depth, location and color, as well as the patient’s skin type, age and other factors, treatment for benign but unattractive birthmarks may take the form of laser or pulsed light therapy, microdermabrasion or surgical excision.
Skin Tag Removal
Skin Tags are small soft raised growths which tend to occur on the neck, underarms and eyelids. They frequently become irritated due to friction in these locations. Fortunately they are easy to remove. There is no down time, and little to no scarring. The treated areas may be sensitive for a few days.
Sebaceous cysts, commonly called cysts, are small, closed sacs that contain solid or fluid material and can be found anywhere on the skin. They develop as an infection, often from a swollen hair follicle, and require treatment to prevent it from enlarging or becoming cancerous.
Cyst removal is done through surgical excision. A small incision is made in the area of the cyst and then the cyst and surrounding tissue will be removed to ensure complete excision. A local anesthetic is used for this procedure. Most cysts do not return when thoroughly removed. Some patients are left with a small scar after a cyst is removed, which can be further treated with a reconstructive treatment, although most scars will fade over time.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Different warts respond to different treatments. Some go away on their own. Salicylic acid products (in the form of drops, gels, pads and bandages) can help self-treatment of many warts by dissolving the keratin protein that makes up the wart and the dead skin above it. Others can be removed via liquid nitrogen freezing or electrical stimulation. Surgery may be recommended for painful or large warts that do not respond to these treatments.
A lipoma is a benign soft-tissue tumor that can be found anywhere on the skin and are most common in middle age. Lipomas rarely become cancerous and are not usually a medical concern unless they become infected. However, many people are bothered by the appearance of lipomas and seek treatment to have them removed.
Lipomas can be removed through surgical excision, which removes the sac or lipoma wall, as well as the entire lipoma. This is done under a local anesthetic and closed with stitches. Most lipomas do not return after surgical excision.
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
- Basal cell carcinoma – 80-85 percent of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma affects cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis.
- Squamous cell carcinoma – 10 percent of all skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis.
- Melanoma – five percent of all skin cancers. Melanoma is a rare but very dangerous type of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.