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Curettage and Electrosurgery for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Surgery Overview

Curettage is the process of scraping skin with a spoon-shaped tool (curette) to remove skin tissue. Electrosurgery is the burning of skin tissue with an electric current that runs through a metal tool or needle. It may be done after curettage to control bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells. The wound is then covered with a dressing.

The skin is numbed with a local anesthetic before the procedure. Curettage and electrosurgery may be repeated once or twice. Or they may be combined with other procedures, such as cryotherapy.

What To Expect

Recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the extent of surgery. Keep the wound clean and dry. A scab will form over the area.

Why It Is Done

Curettage and electrosurgery are an effective way to remove some basal and squamous cell skin cancers. It's usually done only for small, early skin cancers and only in certain places.

How Well It Works

Treating skin cancer with curettage and electrosurgery can cure it most of the time. But this depends on things like the size, depth, and location of the cancer. Your doctor can tell you if this is a good option for you.

Risks

Risks of using curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer include:

  • Skin changes, such as scarred or tight skin, slightly indented or raised skin, or change in skin color to red, white, or brown.
  • Bleeding.
  • Pain.
  • Infection.
  • Recurrence of skin cancer.

Credits

Current as of: November 16, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

Research Health Topics

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