Skin Cancer Surgery

For skin cancers that have not spread, surgery may be performed to remove the entire tumor, and no other treatment may be needed. More aggressive skin cancers such as melanoma may require more extensive surgeries. If nearby lymph nodes are enlarged and Dr. med. Strouthou suspects cancer cells may have spread, he or she may want to remove the lymph nodes.


Dr. med. Strouthou performs an excision with a scalpel or sharp razor, cutting or shaving a growth off the skin. The patient may receive a local anaesthesia to numb the affected area. Excisions may leave a scar.

Dr. med. Strouthou may perform one of several types of excisions:

  • A Simple Excision is created with a scalpel used to remove the skin growth and a small perimeter of surrounding tissue.
  • Shave Excision is a procedure in which a growth is shaved or peeled off the surface of the skin with a sharp razor-like tool.
  • Wide Excision is typically used on melanomas and Merkel cell carcinomas. In a wide excision, the skin tumour and a wider perimeter of healthy tissue is removed. A wide excision may also extend more deeply into the skin than a simple excision.

Reconstructive surgery

Skin Cancer Surgeries may result in scarring or disfigurement, especially in cases when a wide excision or other extensive surgery is necessary to remove a skin cancer, or when the surgery is performed on the face, head, neck or hands.

Curettage and Electrodessication

In this procedure, a skin lesion is removed with a curette, a long, thin surgical tool with a small, sharp hoop or scoop on the end for scraping. After the lesion is scraped, the area is treated with an electric current through a needle-like electrode designed to kill remaining cancer cells and reduce bleeding. This is called Electrodessication. This process of scraping and Electrodessication may be repeated several times. It may require local anaesthesia and may leave a scar.


Also known as Cryotherapy, this technique uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the cancer cells. The technique may be repeated several times. The treated area may swell and blister and may be scarred after the wound heals. This is usually only used for small skin cancers or pre-cancerous lesions.

Laser surgery

This technique uses a laser beam, an intense, narrow beam of light, to destroy cancer cells. Laser surgery may be used to treat very superficial skin cancers.

Lymph node biopsy and removal

A lymph node biopsy is frequently performed on melanoma patients. In this procedure, Dr. med. Strouthou will remove one or more specific lymph nodes, known as sentinel lymph nodes, which directly receive the lymph fluid draining from the tumour. If no sign of cancer is found in the lymph node or nodes, no additional lymph node surgery is necessary. If melanoma cells are found in one or more sentinel lymph nodes, the remaining lymph nodes in the region may be removed.

Common side effects can include bruising, swelling and numbness which will usually subside as the area begins to heal.

There are more uncommon complications associated with surgery such as infection, haematoma, delayed healing and thick scarring.

After surgery, you will have dressings to protect the incisions and Dr. med. Strouthou may write a prescription to help control any pain or discomfort you experience during your recovery, if it’s necessary. The appearance of the scars will continue to improve over time. We recommend to always use sun protection cream.