- Any sensitive location on the body that would have a higher risk of complications with regular surgical excision
- Primary basal cell carcinoma
- Primary squamous cell carcinoma
- Recurrent nonmelanoma skin cancers
- Skin cancers with ill-defined borders
- Skin cancers with high recurrence rates
During the procedure, the area is cleaned and prepared for surgery. A needle is used to inject anesthetic into the skin in order to numb the area. A scalpel is used to remove the areas affected with skin cancer plus a very small margin of normal-appearing skin. Each piece that is removed is frozen and then cut into small sections (known as a frozen section), which then allows for microscopic examination done at the time of the surgery. This entire process is called a stage.
If the margins are clear of tumor, the wound is closed. If tumor remains on any one of the frozen sections, it is re-excised, guided by precise mapping techniques that allow for exact localization of the remaining tumor. This is repeated until no more cancer remains. Because one or more stages may be necessary to completely remove the skin cancer, it is a more time-consuming technique compared to a regular surgical excision.
The following aftercare is recommended:
- Keep the skin dry during the first 24–48 hours.
- Apply Vaseline® or antimicrobial ointment daily.
- Keep the area covered with gauze dressing or a Band-Aid®.
- Non-dissolving stitches need to be removed in 5–14 days, depending on the type of suture.
- Bleeding during or after the surgery
- Wound breakdown
- Contraction of the wound
- Visible stitch marks where the sutures were placed
- Keloid, or a thick (hypertrophic) scar
- There is a risk of cutting important structures such as vessels or nerves, depending on the location and size of the lesion.
- Electrodesiccation and curettage
- Radiation therapy
- Topical creams