Curettage is the process of scraping skin with a spoon-shaped
instrument (curette) to remove skin tissue. Electrosurgery is the burning of skin
tissue with an electric current that runs through a metal instrument or needle.
Electrosurgery may be done after curettage to control bleeding and destroy any
remaining cancer cells. The wound is then covered with an antibiotic
The skin is numbed with a
local anesthetic before the procedure. Curettage and
electrosurgery may be repeated once or twice or may be combined with other
procedures, such as
Recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the extent of surgery.
Keep the wound clean and dry. A scab will form over the area.
Curettage and electrosurgery are done to:
Treatment with curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer has
a cure rate of nearly 99 out of 100 for basal cell cancer that is less than 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide. The cure rate is about 84 out of 100 if the cancer is larger than 2 cm (0.8 in.) wide.1 This procedure is
most effective on new skin cancers. It is less successful for recurrent skin
cancers where scar tissue has developed.
Risks of using curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer
Curettage and electrosurgery is a common treatment method for a
basal cell carcinoma less than
5 mm (0.2 in.) in diameter.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
CitationsCarucci JA, et al. (2012). Basal cell carcinoma. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1294–1303. New York: McGraw-Hill.
October 2, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
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