Lumps and Bumps and Skin Lesions - Removal: The operation

Lumps and Bumps and Skin Lesions - Removal: The operation

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What is it?

You have a lump or a mark or a blemish which is causing trouble or worry. There are three good reasons for having the piece taken out. First you will be freed from the symptoms. Second, it will no longer be there to worry you. Third, we can examine the piece under a microscope to find out exactly what it is. 

The operation

You can be given a local or a general anaesthetic. The choice depends on what your surgeon thinks is best. Having a general anaesthetic means that you will be completely asleep during the operation. Having a local anaesthetic means that you will be awake during the operation, but will not be able to feel anything in the part of your body that is being operated on. The piece is cut out using an incision which is planned to leave the best possible scar afterwards. Whenever possible this means using natural skin lines and creases. Hair may need to be shaved away. The wound is then closed, usually with stitches. You can leave the hospital the same day usually.

Any alternatives

If you leave things as they are, the problem remains. It may get worse. Injections, lasers, cautery, and drug treatment will not be as good as surgery. You do not need to have anything more than this small operation at this stage.

Before the operation

Stop smoking and get your weight down if you are overweight. (See Healthy Living). If you know that you have problems with your blood pressure, your heart, or your lungs, ask your family doctor to check that these are under control. Check you have a relative or friend who can come with you to hospital and take you home. Bring all your tablets and medicines with you to hospital. On the ward, you may be checked for past illnesses and may have special tests, ready for the operation. Many hospitals now run special preadmission clinics, where you visit for an hour or two, a few weeks or so before the operation for these checks. 

After - in hospital

If you have had a general anaesthetic you will come round within 15 minutes. A general anaesthetic will make you slow, clumsy and forgetful for about 24 hours. Do not make important decisions, drive a car, use machinery, or even boil a kettle during that time. If you have had only a local anaesthetic you will be completely awake and alert throughout. Local anaesthetic will wear off after an hour or two, so the wound gradually gets uncomfortable. Take Aspirin or Paracetamol early to control any pain. Feeling in the wound may come back quicker after a general anaesthetic so that you should be ready to take painkillers inside an hour. The nurses will give you a supply of painkillers. The wound should be just about pain-free within a day or so. The wound may have stitches which need to be removed or stitches which melt away. There may be a dressing or no dressing. You will be told about the arrangements for your own wound. There may be some purple bruising around the wound which spreads downwards by gravity and fades to a yellow colour after 2 to 3 days. It is not important.

There may be some swelling of the surrounding skin which also improves in 2 to 3 days. You can wash the wound area as soon as the dressing has been removed. Soap and warm tap water are entirely adequate. Salted water is not necessary. You can shower or bathe as often as you want. Some hospitals arrange a check up about a week after you leave hospital. Others leave check-ups to the General Practitioner. You will be given the results from the laboratory microscope tests. The nurses will advise about sick notes, certificates etc. 

Possible complications

Complications are unusual but are rapidly recognised and dealt with by the nursing and surgical staff. If you think that all is not well, ask the nurses or doctors. Bleeding may show up as swelling under the skin or by blood coming through the dressing. This may happen in the first 12 hours. Get advice from your doctor straight away. Wound infection is sometimes seen. This settles down with antibiotics in a week or two. The wound is not strong enough to take blows or rough treatment for 2 to 3 weeks. Be careful with it during this time.

Occasionally there are numb patches in the skin around the wound which get better after 2 to 3 months. The wound may take up to a year to really soften and fade. Rarely there is thickening in the wound that lasts longer. 

General advice

The operation is a minor one and the results are very good. We hope these notes will help you through your operation. They are a general guide. They do not cover everything. Also, all hospitals and surgeons vary a little. If you have any queries or problems, please ask the doctors or nurses. 


Thinking about getting cosmetic surgery?

Download our free 64 page PDF guide



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