You may not feel pain during the procedure because of the numbing agent applied over the area. Once the anesthesia wears off, some amount of pain may be experienced because the procedure involves scraping of the tissue and sealing bleeding with cauterization (using the heating effect of electric current).
The person may experience persistent pain if
- There is an infection of the site.
- There is swelling over the site of the procedure.
Sometimes, pain may arise weeks after the procedure from the scar tissue that forms over the site. In any case, it is always prudent to inform your doctor if the pain is severe, throbbing, and accompanying swelling or oozing of the surrounding areas.
How is the curettage and electrodesiccation procedure done?
The procedure is done under local anesthesia. After the area is numbed, the doctor may shave off a part of the mass or lesion and send it away for lab examination (biopsy).
Curettage: The surgeon then scrapes at the remaining tumor with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette till all the abnormal tissue is gone. The typical “feel” of squamous cell or basal cell carcinoma guides the doctor as to how much to scrape.
Electrodesiccation: A cautery is a small probe with an electric current running through it. The cautery is used to burn or destroy the tissue and seal bleeding vessels in the area. This entire process is called electrodesiccation.
Once the tumor is curetted away, the surgeon uses electrocautery to burn and seal the base of the wound formed during the curetting. He will also curette a surrounding rim of healthy tissue. This prevents bleeding of the area and seals the margins of the healthy tissue.
Once done, the site is bandaged with gauze and petroleum jelly.
Post-procedure care: You must keep the wound bandaged and dry. Daily dressings with petroleum jelly and gauze may be needed for up to two weeks. The wound will take three to six weeks to heal completely and will leave a scar.
What are the pros and cons of the procedure?
The main advantage of the procedure is that it can be done in an outpatient setting and takes less than one hour. Other advantages are that no stitches are needed, and it is relatively inexpensive.
The disadvantages of the procedure are as follows:
- The procedure leaves a cigarette burn-like scar.
- The scar may sometimes pain and ooze for up to six weeks after the procedure.
- The tumor may recur at the site, needing additional procedures.
- The procedure cannot be performed if the cancer is in the hair follicles, head, scalp, or anywhere in the midline of the face.
- We also cannot use this procedure to treat large, poorly defined, or recurrent tumors.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Is Curettage and Electrodesiccation Painful? Related Articles
Does Skin Cancer Kill You?Skin cancer is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of skin cells. Skin cancer usually arises on skin exposed to the sun, such as the face, lips, ears, scalp, neck, chest, arms and hands and on the legs, especially in women. Malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive skin cancer that tends to spread to other parts of the body. All other types of skin cancers have the potential to be locally invasive and spread to other parts of the body. Nonmelanoma skin cancers are comparatively less aggressive.
Melanoma (Skin Cancer)Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in skin cells called melanocytes and affects more than 53,600 people in the United States each year. These melanocytes can grow together to form benign moles which, after a change in size, shape, or color can be a sign of melanoma. Caused by sun exposure, early detection becomes extremely important to avoid a spread to other areas of the body. Diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the abnormal skin and treatment depends on the extent and characteristics of the patient. Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to various organs.
Skin Cancer QuizWhat causes skin cancer? Take our Skin Cancer Quiz to learn about the risks, symptoms, causes, and treatments for this common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
Skin CancerSkin cancers occur when skin cells undergo malignant transformations and grow into tumors. The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are highly curable when they are diagnosed and treated early. Sun exposure, tanning beds, depressed immune system, radiation exposure, and certain viral infections are risk factors for skin cancer. Skin cancers are treated with surgery or radiation. The prognosis of nonmelanoma skin cancers is generally very good.
Skin Cancer PictureExcessive exposure to sunlight is the main cause of skin cancer. See a picture of Skin Cancer and learn more about the health topic.
Skin Cancer SlideshowDiscover the causes, types, and treatments of skin cancer. Learn how to prevent skin cancer and how to check for melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Also, find out how to spot the early signs of skin cancer.