Skin surgery


You have been advised that you need skin surgery. You will be given an appointment after you have seen the doctor in clinic.

Skin surgery is usually a simple procedure. It involves you coming along to the Dermatology Department, where a doctor/specialist nurse will carry out the operation in our own surgery.

Most procedures take 20 to 30 minutes and you go straight home afterwards. There is no need for you to starve yourself before the procedure. If the surgery is carried out in an area where you need to stretch, for example, your calf or back when driving, it is advisable to bring someone with you to drive you home afterwards. This will prevent any unnecessary trauma to the area being treated.

You will be given a local anaesthetic i.e. an injection around the area of skin to be treated (you are not put to sleep). Sensations may take 2 to 4 hours to return after the local anaesthetic. Taking a simple painkiller such as Paracetamol usually relieves any pain or soreness. You will probably have some stitches, although this is not always necessary. This depends on the procedure being carried out.


All skin surgery carries the following risks:

  • bleeding from the wound post operatively
  • wound infection
  • wound breakdown

All surgery results in some degree of scarring, but this can be minimised by keeping the wound clean and dry. You may be required to rest or limit your activity e.g. exercise/work.

Scars can stretch and sometimes become raised (keloid), depending on which part of the body surgery has taken place. Surgery on certain areas of the face carries with it a small risk of permanent nerve damage. Please discuss this further with the doctor performing the surgery.


A biopsy is the removal of tissue for study and diagnosis, usually under a microscope. It is also sometimes used  to completely remove lesions.

There are several ways of carrying out a biopsy. These are:

Punch biopsy

A round piece of skin is removed for testing in the laboratory using a specially designed instrument. Stitches are usually required.

Shave biopsy

Some skin lesions can be cut off the skin leaving a small wound, which is then sealed by cauterisation.

Excisional biopsy

Some skin lesions need cutting out of the skin, and these wounds will require stitches. The wounds from these may be larger than the lesion was originally.

Other procedures

Curettage and cautery

Some skin lesions can be scooped out with a surgical cutting spoon, and the wound is then sealed with cauterisation.


This involves passing an electrical current onto the lesion, which cauterises the lesion being treated.

Skin flaps

Large lesions, or lesions in awkward positions, may require a plastic surgery technique, to enable the wound to be stitched. This may take between 45 minutes to 1 hour, and can be a larger wound than you expected.

Skin grafts

In some instances a skin graft is necessary when a large lesion has been removed. A piece of skin is taken from another area of the body and used to repair the wound. Stronger pain relief may be prescribed, if needed. There may be more bruising initially. 


Following your skin surgery procedure, if a sample has been sent for examination, it can take 4-5 weeks for the results to come through. You will be contacted when the results are available. This may be in the form of a letter from your clinician, or you may be offered a clinic appointment to discuss the results in person. If you receive an appointment to discuss your results we would encourage you to bring a friend or relative with you. 

Medication / other considerations

Please bring along a list of medications you are taking at the time you come for surgery, and let the Doctor or Nurse know if you have any allergies.

If you are taking Warfarin, Aspirin, or any other anticoagulant (blood thinning medication), and this was not discussed at your clinic appointment, please inform the Dermatology Department as soon as possible. You may have to stop taking these medications prior to your surgery.

If you have a pacemaker, and this was not discussed at your clinic appointment, please inform the Dermatology Department as soon as possible. Some of the equipment used during surgery may interfere with your pacemaker and input may be required from the Cardiology team.

How to contact us

Dermatology Secretary 

01709 424161 

Dermatology Clinic 

01709 424514

Skin surgery - patient information leaflet
Produced by Dermatology Department, July 2001. 
Revised December 2001, December 2003, July 2004, September 2006,  July 2008, January 2009, June 2010, November 2011, November 2012, December 2014, April 2015, March 2017, April 2019, July 2021. 
Revision due July 2023. Version:15 
©The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 2021. All rights reserved.

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