A shave excision is a simple procedure used to remove smaller growths, such as moles, from your skin. The primary tool used in this procedure is a sharp razor. This procedure is less invasive and expensive to perform than a full-thickness skin excision. A full-thickness skin excision requires sutures, or stitches, while a shave excision doesn’t. As a result, a shave excision typically produces a less noticeable scar.
The first step is to inject the area under the growth with a numbing medicine or anaesthetic. In addition to preventing pain, the anaesthetic will cause the growth to rise upwards, making it easier to remove. The growth will then be cut off with a sharp razor. You may feel a pushing sensation as the cut is made, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. A chemical such as aluminum chloride hexahydrate may then be applied to your skin to stop bleeding. Electrocautery may be used around the edges of the shave excision site.
The surgical site will then be cleaned and a soothing antibiotic ointment applied followed by an absorbant foam dressing which is waterproof. This dressing will help to stop the rubbing of the wound against your clothing and will also help lower your risk of infection and help change the oxygen tension of the wound to prevent keloidal scarring.
Once we have removed the growth, it will be sent off to a laboratory for analysis. It is always good practice to send ANY growths removed to the pathologist. As there is a risk with a shave excision of the growth returning, it becomes important to have the original pathology. In most cases if a raised mole is removed, recurrence can mean just some return of pigmentation within the scar. Rarely the whole growth can recur.
In the meantime, following the procedure, we will provide you with detailed instructions about when to remove or change the dressing. While it’s healing, you should keep the site covered when you’re in bright sunlight, as a rule for around 3 weeks, as a sunburn can permanently darken the wound, making the scar more noticeable. Thereafter, we will supply you with a topical silicone gel to apply to give you the best cosmetic outcome. In cosmetically sensitive sites, we may even use laser post-procedure to lessen the chance of scarring.
The excision site may be red for a few weeks, but it will gradually get lighter. Try to be patient; the healing process can be slow. If you notice excessive scarring or signs of infection developing, please call us. Some bleeding may occur after a shave excision. If this happens, press on the wound firmly with a sterile bandage or dressing for 20 minutes. If you are at all concerned or the excision site continues to ooze then please come back to the practice for assistance. As a rule, some bleeding is acceptable. A saturated wet dressing needs to be changed!