SERVICES & TREATMENTS
At North Western Dermatology our purpose built facility allows for minor surgery
to be performed under local anaesthetic in a safe and comfortable environment.
Dermatologic surgery includes biopsy techniques used to sample the skin, the excision of skin cancers and moles, and the use of various methods to repair the skin and remove blemishes.
The detection and treatment of skin cancer represents a large part of our practice’s activity. Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) cause disfiguring ulcers if left untreated. Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are often considered low grade tumours but can sometimes be dangerous. Melanomas are potentially life-threatening but in most cases they can be cured by simple surgery if diagnosed early. The key to a successful outcome is timely treatment and expert care.
The majority of skin cancers can be safely removed by surgery performed under local anaesthetic. Standard surgery results in a straight-line wound that is longer than the cancer itself as extra skin must be removed (in the shape of an “eye”) to avoid an indented scar. In some cases skin is brought across from a nearby area (a “flap”) to repair the wound and in other cases a skin graft is needed. Usually fine non-dissolvable stitches are put in place and these are removed 1 or 2 weeks following surgery.
Other surgical techniques
Sometimes a skin cancer can be removed by curettage and cautery, using a small, sharp spoon-shaped instrument called a curette. Under local anaesthetic the Dermatologist scoops out the cancer and then cauterises the skin using a device with a heated tip to stop bleeding and to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Another technique is a shave excision that involves removal of the spot or lump with a blade creating a shallow wound which heals without the need for stitches.
The skin may need to be biopsied (sampled) for further analysis by a skin pathologist under the microscope in order to more accurately diagnose the cause of a rash or to determine if a spot is benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous). In most cases an instrument resembling a miniature apple corer is used to perform a “punch biopsy”. A stitch may be required and the biopsy may result in a small scar or pock mark. The technique is performed by the Dermatologist under local anaesthetic.
Removal of moles, lumps & bumps
Moles, cysts and other harmless skin spots or lumps can be removed by a Dermatologist after a discussion regarding the likely cosmetic outcome. Some rough bumps (seborrhoeic keratoses) and brown spots (lentigines) can be treated with cryotherapy (freezing) and others can be cleared with finewire diathermy (cautery). Solar keratoses are scaly red sun spots that commonly appear on fair skin that has been exposed to sunlight over many years. Cryotherapy offers an effective treatment however creams can also be prescribed by a Dermatologist to remove these areas of sun-damaged skin.