This page will give you information about removing benign skin lesions. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.
What are skin lesions?
What are the benefits of surgery?
Most skin lesions can be safely left alone. You may want the skin lesion removed for cosmetic reasons or to be reassured that it is not a cancer.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Surgery is the only reliable way to remove skin lesions but you may simply leave them alone.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is usually performed under a local anaesthetic.
The operation usually takes 15 to 25 minutes.
When removing a sebaceous cyst, your surgeon will try to remove it whole as this makes sure that none of the cyst wall is left behind and prevents it from coming back. Your surgeon will make an elliptical (oval) cut over the cyst and then cut out the cyst.
To remove a lipoma, your surgeon will make a straight cut on your skin directly over it. The lipoma is freed up from the tissues around it and removed.
A skin tag can simply be numbed with local anaesthetic and then removed.
When removing a mole, your surgeon will cut all the way around it using an elliptical cut.
What complications can happen?
General complications of any operation
- infection of the surgical site (wound)
- unsightly scarring of your skin
- wound breakdown
Specific complications of this operation
- a lipoma or a sebaceous cyst can come back
- damage to nerves that supply your skin
- you may need a larger operation
How soon will I recover?
After a short while you will be able to go home.
You should be able to return to work the next day unless your work will place a strain on the stitches. It is unusual for these procedures to restrict any daily activities you carry out.
Skin lesions are common and can be treated by surgery.
The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
For more on how this information was prepared, click here.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: September 2019