Shave or Curette of skin growths

Picture of brown skin growth on back

Shave/Curette of growths

Some skin growths can be shaved or curetted (scraped) off the skin to remove them

What types of growths can be shaved or curetted?

Usually, shave or curette of skin growths is used for benign growths that are cosmetically embarrassing or cause a nuisance by being caught on clothes, hairbrushes, hard-hats etc.

Occasionally, a suspected skin cancer might need to be sampled (biopsied), and a shave or curette biopsy might be performed to check what the growth is

How is a shave or curette performed?

Firstly, the skin around the growth is numbed by using a local anaesthetic and the skin is cleaned with an antibacterial solution.

For a shave excision, a blade is then used to carefully shave the growth off, keeping as flush to the skin as possible. For a curettage, an instrument called a ‘curette’ is used; this is a small spoon-shaped instrument that is used to scrape the growth away.

Will I need to have stitches?

No. Because the skin growth has been shaved or scraped off, there is a wound similar to a deep graze. This doesn’t need to be stitched, and will heal in time

How long will I take to heal?

The wound will usually form a ‘scab’ within a few days. Don’t pull the scab off, allow it to fall away in time – this will usually be in 2-3 weeks. When the scab falls off, it should reveal a pink healed area underneath

Can I do sport afterwards?

You should avoid strenuous activity for a day or two and not get the wound wet until it’s healed or until your specialist tells you otherwise

What are the risks & complications of shave or curettage?

  • Scarring – there will be a scar approximately the same width/size as the growth. Usually this scar is flat, and begins quite dark pink but over the next few months the scar will usually become pale. Rarely the scar can become raised and itchy, which may mean it is becoming a keloid or hypertrophic scar; treatment can be used to try and improve these types of scar, but this can be difficult
  • Infection – this is quite a rare risk of shave or curettage, but if the wound starts to become red and sore then antibiotics might be needed
  • Bleeding – the wound may ooze a little for the first day or two, but bleeding that needs medical attention is rare after a shave or curette
  • Contour irregularity – while the aim of shave or curette is to make a flat scar, there may occasionally be slight bumps or dips noticeable after healing
  • Recurrence – whilst the shave or curette will hopefully remove the skin growth for good, growths can occasionally grow back again. This may take months or possibly years
  • Need for further treatment – if the laboratory tests say that the growth is suspicious, or even malignant, then more treatment may be needed including possible surgery

This information is for general information only. If you have any concerns about a skin growth or are considering any treatments, you should seek advice from a healthcare specialist

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