Removing Benign Skin Lesions

What are skin lesions?

Skin lesions are lumps found on or just below your skin. Examples of skin lesions are epidermoid cysts, lipomata, skin tags and moles.

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 usually takes 15 to 25 minutes. When removing an epidermoid cyst, your surgeon will make an elliptical (oval) cut over the cyst and then cut out the cyst (see figure 1). 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 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?

1. General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Wound breakdown, if your skin fails to heal

2. Specific complications

  • A lipoma or an epidermoid cyst can come back
  • Damage to nerves
  • You may need a larger operation

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home a short while after the operation.
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.


Author: Mr Ayan Banerjea FRCS (Gen. Surg.) and Prof Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.) Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright ©

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.