Surgical Dermatology

The dermatologists at Rio Grande Dermatology are skilled surgeons. Skin biopsies and surgical excisions are performed daily. Surgery may be required for a variety of benign and malignant lesions. Each patient is a unique individual and is treated with the utmost respect and special care. If you, or a loved one, needs surgery, you can trust the surgeons at Rio Grande Dermatology absolutely.

The Surgical Dermatology portion of our website addresses surgical procedures in brief. Please contact one of our caring staff if you have further questions. Insurance covers medically necessary surgeries.

We accept a wide variety of insurance at Rio Grande Dermatology. Please refer to the Insurance Accepted tab on our website for a complete listing. Most surgical procedures are covered by insurance unless the surgery is strictly for cosmetic purposes. Your dermatologist will help you determine if the surgery is considered medically necessary.

Please contact Rio Grande Dermatology with any questions about surgical procedures.

Skin Biopsy

Determination of whether you have skin cancer will begin with a skin biopsy. Usually a small sample is taken from an area of abnormal skin tissue. Sometimes the sample is a small wedge of skin called a shave biopsy. This technique is safe and easy. You will receive a shot of local anesthesia prior to the biopsy and the rest of the procedure will be pain free.

Daily washing and application ointment

Care of the biopsy site includes gentle daily washing, application of an ointment (such as Vaseline) and a fresh bandage. Biopsy results are usually returned within two weeks. If results show you have skin cancer, you will need surgical excision or destruction to treat it.

Surgical excision is commonly used to treat all types of skin cancer. The physicians at Rio Grande Dermatology have extensive surgical training and are known for their excellent cosmetic results.

Surgical Excision

To remove cancerous skin, your Rio Grande Dermatology physician will begin by outlining the area with a skin-marking pen. A margin of normal appearing skin will be included because there is no way to determine with the naked eye how far the cancer cells have spread. The excision outline is drawn in the shape of a football so that the skin can be sewn back together to lay flat. After your dermatologist administers a local anesthetic, he or she will remove the cancerous skin. The entire procedure takes approximately 30 minutes.

Healing and scarring

Wounds from this type of surgery heal in 1 to 2 weeks and a very thin white scar will usually remain. Many factors affect scarring, including wound care and on which part of the body the surgery occurred. The areas of the body where there is a lot of movement often result in wider scars. Wound care instructions will be discussed on the day of surgery with your Rio Grande dermatologist.

Advantages and disadvantages of surgical excision

The advantage of surgical excision is that the cancerous area and periphery of normal skin around the lesion are examined under the microscope after the procedure to determine if all cancer cells have been removed. As a result, the cancer cure rate with excision is high. The disadvantage of surgical excision is that extra tissue needs to be removed to be certain all cancer is eliminated, which leads to a larger scar.

Surgical excision is commonly used to treat all types of skin cancer. The physicians at Rio Grande Dermatology have extensive surgical training and are known for their excellent cosmetic results.

Cyst Excision

Many benign lesions are removed with a skin biopsy and excision. Many patients request the removal of benign moles for cosmetic reasons or because the mole becomes sore and itchy when rubbed by clothing. The most common method of removal is to shave the mole flush with the surrounding skin. This technique leaves a flat, skin-colored to light scar the size of the original lesion. Other types of removal are also available and your Rio Grande physician will choose the technique that will leave you with the most cosmetically acceptable scar.

Local anesthetic and small incision

A cyst is a round lump, or sac, under the skin that fills with a semi-solid material and sometimes becomes inflamed and sore. Cyst removal is a commonly requested procedure that is similar to excision. At your surgical appointment, your dermatologist will begin by outlining the cyst wall. Local anesthetic will then be administered. A small incision will be made over the cyst and the sac will be removed through the incision, then it will be closed. The entire procedure takes 15-30 minutes. The scar that results will be a fine line approximately the length of the diameter of the original cyst.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns related to skin surgery or skin cancer.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Your Rio Grande physician may determine that Mohs surgery is the best procedure based on the location and type of skin cancer. Mohs surgery is often recommended on areas of the face where it would be difficult or disfiguring to take extra skin. Some aggressive forms of skin cancer or very large tumors may require Mohs surgery.

Skin cells examined while you wait

Mohs surgery is a special technique developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs. It involves taking only the tumor and a tiny margin of normal-looking skin. The amount of skin removed is called a level. The skin is processed and examined while you wait and all edges of the level are examined. If cancer cells remain, the surgeon goes back only to the edge where the tumor is spreading and takes a tiny bit more (level 2). This tissue is then processed and examined by your doctor while you wait. This process is repeated until the tumor is completely eradicated. The surgeon then closes the wound in the most cosmetically appealing fashion possible.

Advantages and disadvantages of Mohs surgery

The advantages of Mohs surgery are that it provides the highest cure rate, the smallest final defect and excellent cosmetic results. The disadvantages are that it’s a time consuming procedure and is more costly than simple excision.

If it’s determined that Mohs micrographic surgery is the best treatment for your cancer, you will be referred to one of the best Mohs surgeons in the Albuquerque area. The caring staff at Rio Grande Dermatology will answer all of your questions and assist you in setting up your appointment.