Before skin surgery

What is a skin surgery?

Skin surgery is either when a biopsy (sample) or excision (complete removal of a lesion) is performed. Depending which surgery you are having, either a sample of skin or the complete lesion is removed in order to look at it more closely under a microscope. This is done in order to gain additional information about your condition so that a more precise diagnosis may be made and treatment given accordingly.

What will skin surgery involve?

The whole procedure normally takes between 20 and 60 minutes (times can vary). The skin will first be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The area will then be numbed by an injection of local anaesthetic under the skin, which will sting a little, after which the area of skin becomes numb. This stops any pain, but you may be aware of the sensation of touch or pulling of your skin during the procedure.

A piece of skin, or skin lesion, will be removed and sent to the laboratory for investigation. You will probably also require stitches, which you will need to organise to have removed, either via the practice nurse at your local GP surgery or local walk-in centre. You will be advised of when they should be removed following the procedure.

Are there any special precautions before skin surgery? 

  • Your skin lesion will either be biopsied or removed under local anaesthetic. This means that you will not be asleep during the procedure and you will be able to go home afterwards. It is advisable for a friend or relative to collect you in case you feel light-headed or faint. There is usually no reason why you should not take public transport or drive yourself unless the operation is on your leg, arm, hand, foot or around the eye.
  • You may eat and drink as normal on the day of the procedure.
  • If you are on regular medication, you should take this as usual. Please bring a medication list to your procedure to show the doctor.
  • Before the operation please inform the doctor if you have an artificial heart valve, are allergic to local anaesthetics, dressings or antibiotics, are on anti-coagulants or are pregnant.
  • Please avoid strenuous exercise until the stitches are removed.
  • It is better not to have the procedure within 2 weeks of going on holiday as you may need stitches to be removed.
  • No swimming until the sutures are removed and the wound has healed.
  • Please do not bring young children. We cannot supervise children during the procedure.
  • Please let us know if you are on Warfarin as you will need to organise an INR check 2 days before the procedure and bring that result with you.
  • If you have a cardiac device e.g. a pacemaker or defibrillator, please bring documentation with you confirming what type of device you have. 
  • Please arrive 20 minutes before your appointment, if you arrive late for your appointment it is likely that you will have to be re-booked

When shall I know the result?

The doctor will advise you. It can take up to 4 weeks for the results to be available.


If you are unable to attend your appointment please contact our administrative team:

West Middlesex University Hospital

Dermatology department, Outpatients 3

T: 020 8321 5473 / 5370

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

Dermatology department, First Floor

T: 020 3315 6666


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