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Skin Cancer

Surgical Excision

Although an excision could refer to any type of surgical removal, we primarily use the term—and the procedure itself—for the removal of skin lesions and skin cancers.

In excision surgery, the skin cancer tumor is cut out along with some of its surrounding skin tissue. This provides a margin of safety by removing any cancer cells that may have migrated from the tumor site into the surrounding tissue.

Skin cancer excisions are performed by dermatologists. The most common technique used to excise a tumor is called elliptical or wide excision. Shaped like a football instead of a circle, the elliptical shape helps create a neater closure when the incision heals and is less likely to scar.

Surgical Excision vs. Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery is now considered the gold standard for skin cancer treatment. Numerous medical research reviews report it has the lowest skin cancer recurrence rates, highest cure rates and best aesthetic results of any skin cancer treatment.

Mohs surgery offers a more thorough option for removing skin cancer tumors, particularly on the face and neck. It allows for immediate analysis of removed tissue, compared to waiting for results from a pathology lab. If more tissue removal is needed, it can be done right away, instead of requiring a return visit for additional surgery.

No two people are exactly alike, and no two skin cancers are exactly alike. Multiple individual factors will help your California Skin Institute dermatologist determine which procedure is best for you: surgical excision or Mohs surgery. The type of skin cancer you have, the stage of the cancer, and where on the body it is located are key factors. Surgical excision may still be the right choice for certain melanomas, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, especially on lower risk body sites such as the arms and legs.

For small, well-placed tumors, surgical excision offers results that are both medically and aesthetically effective. Unlike chemotherapy and radiation, it can usually be accomplished in one session.

The Risks and Benefits of Skin Cancer Surgery

As with any type of surgery, skin cancer surgery is not without risk. This can include scarring, bleeding and infection. However, these risks are minimized in the expert hands of a California Skin Institute board-certified dermatologist. In addition to more than a decade spent as an undergraduate, in medical school, and in residency, CSI dermatologists undergo ongoing additional training in specialized surgical techniques. Our dermatologists have years of experience successfully treating patients and will work with you to provide the most optimal outcome.


Treatment results will vary, talk to a practitioner to see if this treatment or procedure is right for you.

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