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Skin Cancer

Electrodessication and Curettage

What is electrodesiccation and curettage (EDC)?

EDC is a type of electrosurgery in which a skin lesion is scraped off and heat is applied to the skin surface. It is a superficial removal and is ideal for growths that are not thought to be invasive deep into the skin.

What is involved in EDC?

Your board-certified dermatologist will explain to you why your skin lesion needs treatment and the procedure involved. A small amount of local anesthetic will be injected into the area surrounding the growth to be treated. The skin will go numb and you should only feel pressure during the procedure. The growth is gently removed using an instrument called a curette, which is like a small spoon with sharp edges. The wound surface is then cauterized with an electrical surgery tip to stop bleeding and to aid in destroying any remaining cells of the growth in question. This cycle of curetting and electrocautery may be repeated several times until your board-certified dermatologist feels confident the entirety of the lesion is removed. A dressing is then applied and instructions should be given on how to care for your wound.

Will my doctor call me with my pathology results?

EDC is considered a “blind” procedure in which no specimen is sent to the pathologist in some cases. What this means is that the margins are estimated by the board-certified dermatologist using the curette to feel for normal versus affected tissue. This procedure should only be done by experts with a high level of training as inexperienced practitioners have been shown to have higher rates of recurrence (the growth coming back) in several key studies.

What types of skin growths can be treated by EDC?

EDC is suitable to treat more superficial lesions. These include:

  • Seborrheic keratoses
  • Viral warts
  • Squamous cell carcinoma in situ (non-invasive squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Pyogenic granuloma
  • Actinic keratoses
  • Basal cell carcinomas
  • Skin tags

Will I have a scar?

EDC often results in some sort of scar. They tend to be flat and round and similar in size to the original skin growth. Some people have abnormal scarring and may result in a keloid or hypertrophic scar, but this is unusual.

How does the wound look after EDC?

The wound may be tender when the local anesthetic wears off, but typically only over-the-counter pain medication is needed such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil). You will have a small dressing in place for 24 hours or as advised by your board-certified dermatologist. Avoid strenuous exertion and stretching of the area. Keep the wound dry for 48 hours. After, you can gently was and dry the wound. The wound takes approximately 2-3 weeks to heal over. The scar will initially be red and raised but usually reduces in color and size over several months.

At Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, we are experts at treating skin growths, whether they are cancerous in nature or just bothersome and cosmetically unappealing. You will only see a board-certified dermatologist who will discuss your treatment plan in detail. If you have a growth that you would like removed, contact Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group today!


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