A common reason why skin lesions are excised is to fully remove skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma. If the cancer is not cut out it may spread to the surrounding skin and to other parts of the body (metastasize).
Other reasons why a lesion may be removed include for diagnosis, cosmetic appearance, if it is symptomatic (eg tender or prone to being knocked), or to remove an inflamed or frequently infected cyst.
A variety of techniques are used to remove skin lesions. The particular technique selected will depend on such factors as the seriousness of the lesion, its location, and the patient’s ability to tolerate the procedure. Some of the simpler techniques, such as a biopsy or cryosurgery, can be performed by a primary care physician. Some of the more complex techniques, such as excision with a scalpel, electrosurgery, or laser surgery, are typically performed by a dermatologic surgeon, plastic surgeon, or other surgical specialist. Often, the technique selected will depend on how familiar the physician is with the procedure and how comfortable he or she is with performing it.