Curettage & Cautery
Curettage and Cautery is a technique for the removal skin cancers whereby a sharp blade (the curette) is used to scrape away the skin cancer. The base of the wound is then cauterized to seal any blood vessels. The wound is then left to heal in by itself (like a bad graze) and no stitches are required. It is a treatment used mainly for skin cancers found on the back and other areas of thick skin. Over time the wound contracts to be about 70% of its original size although it may remain paler and shinier than the surrounding skin.
This technique involves the injection of local anaesthetic, ensuring a pain free procedure. During the procedure patients often report feeling a small amount pressure when a sharp blade or curette is used to scrape away the tissue to be removed. Once the lesion has been curetted the base of the lesion is treated with diathermy to reduce the risk of recurrence and to stop any bleeding. In some cases, the process is repeated twice, ensuring the highest cure rate possible is achieved.
After curette and diathermy the lesion looks like a graze. The lesion will be dressed post-operatively with a bandage, and may take 2-3 weeks to heal. Most lesions heal with a scar, although the scarred (often white) area is usually smaller than the size of the original lesion.