Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Removing benign skin lesions

3-minute read

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?

Skin lesions are lumps found on or just below your skin. Examples of skin lesions are sebaceous cysts (also called epidermal inclusion cysts or epidermoid cysts), lipomas, skin tags and moles.

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.

Illustration showing removal of benign skin lesions.
Illustration showing removal of benign skin lesions.
Removing benign skin lesions.

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

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • 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

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN) - ACD

Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN) is a benign (harmless) condition where multiple small, brown-black, raised spots appear on the face and neck.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Syringoma - ACD

Syringomas are benign skin tumours most commonly seen around the eyelid area. Uncommonly they can occur around the genital area. Eruptive forms of syringomas may occur on the chest, neck and abdominal areas.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Laser treatment for pigmentation - ACD

Laser treatment for pigmentation. In lesions such as solar lentigines (sun induced age spots), lentigo simplex and ephelides (freckles) the pigment (melanin) is in the top layers of the skin.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Seborrhoeic Keratoses - ACD

Seborrhoeic keratoses are benign wart-like growths on the skin. Seborrhoeic keratoses can affect all people and most commonly appear after the age of 40

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Juvenile xanthogranuloma - ACD

Juvenile xanthogranuloma (JXG) is a self-limiting benign condition which means that it resolves spontaneously without treatment.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Skin Check - How do we do it? - South East Skin Clinic

What is involved in a Skin Check at South East Skin Clinic? Our three mole scanners compliment each other, but how? What's the evidence for a skin check?

Read more on Skin Check website

Skin Cancer & Melanoma Treatment - Targeting Cancer

Learn more about skin cancer and the different treatments available.

Read more on Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer website

Squamous cell carcinoma - ACD

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is one of the most common forms of skin cancer, with only basal cell carcinoma (BCC) occurring more frequently. SCC occurs mainly in Caucasians

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Lentigo maligna - ACD

Lentigo maligna is an early form of melanoma. In lentigo maligna the cancer cells are confined to the upper layer of the skin (epidermis). When the cancer cells spread deeper into the skin (to dermis) it is called lentigo maligna melanoma.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Naevus sebaceous - ACD

Naevus sebaceous is a birthmark usually seen on the scalp or face of newborns and infants. In rare cases it can be present on other areas of the body. Naevus sebaceous can be thought of as being similar to a birthmark but made up of sebaceous cells.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo