Local excision

Patient Guide

What is it?

A local excision is where the abnormal mole or area of skin (also known as a skin biopsy or an excision biopsy) and a small amount of normal skin around the area are removed (excised) and sent to a laboratory for testing.

The procedure is a relatively simple operation performed while you are awake by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. A local anesthetic will be injected into the area around the mole or lesion to numb the area.

The mole or lesion is removed and then the wound will be closed up with stitches and covered with a dressing and you will go home on the same day. You will be given information on how to look after the wound and dressing.

Risks

Even though this is minor surgery, all surgery carries risks, including poor scarring/cosmetic appearance, wound infection, scar opening up, bleeding and numbness. As this is usually a small procedure, these risks are often very minimal.

What happens next?

A pathologist (a specialist doctor) will look at the area removed or tissue under a microscope and make a diagnosis. The analysis of the biopsy typically takes two weeks and therefore there will be a short wait after the biopsy before the diagnosis is known. We know this can be a worrying time for you and your family, however, the majority of local excisions do not pick up a melanoma. It is always better, however, to be diagnosed early.

If you would like to discuss your concerns, please call our:

Melanoma Helpline on 0808 801 0777

If melanoma is diagnosed, you will need to go back to hospital to have a further procedure called a wide local excision. For information on a wide local excision see here.

Questions you may have

  • Can I exercise after my local excision?
  • How long will the results take to arrive back?
  • How will I get my results?
  • Will I have a visible scar and what can be done to minimise the scarring?
  • What may happen next?