Surgical Dermatology

What to Expect on Surgery Day

Surgical excision

First, you will be escorted to a surgical suite where you will be given a patient gown to wear if needed. Second, a medical assistant will record your blood pressure and take a focused history by asking you a few questions. Then, you will review and sign a consent form. Next, Dr. Cowan will enter the room and this is your opportunity to ask any remaining questions you may have before surgery. The lesion that is being removed will be marked and anesthetized using a small caliber needle. Patients are usually amazed at how little discomfort they feel. Then, all instruments will be arranged and the surgical site will be prepped and sterilized.

Next, the lesion will be surgical excised by Dr. Cowan. Bleeding will be controlled using a device called electrocautery. It stops bleeding by passing a small amount of electric current only through the tissue it touches (you will not feel any discomfort). Electrocautery creates heat which singes the blood vessels and stops any pinpoint bleeding. Since it generates heat, the patient sometimes will notice a distinct burn odor. This is very normal and there is no reason to be alarmed. Then, stitches (or sutures) are placed to bring the sides of the wound together. Finally, a bandage is applied and wound care is discussed. Any necessary topical and/or oral medications will be given along with a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks after the surgery. The specimen is sent to an outside agency where a board-certified dermatopathologist will review the specimen to ensure the skin cancer or growth was completely removed.