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Electrodessication and Curettage (ED&C)

What is an ED&C? 

An electrodessication and curettage or ED&C can be used to remove early basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.  We tend to reserve this procedure for superficial basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinoma in-situ, also called Bowen’s disease.  This is typically not a procedure for the face.  Usually you will see this procedure done on the chest, back, arms, and legs.

What is the actual procedure like? 

The procedure is done in the office in one of our comfortable exam chairs.  The entire process will take less than 30 minutes.  The area is first prepped, cleaned and then a local anesthetic is injected.  The procedure itself utilizes two main tools; a curette and hyfrecator.  The curette is roughly the same size as a pencil and has a sharp rounded end.  The hyfrecator also looks like a pencil but has a dull pointed tip on the end that allows us to stop any bleeding during the procedure.

The procedure includes three passes with the curette and three passes with the hyfrecator.  The first pass with the curette will be a vertical pass followed by the hyfrecator.  The second pass with the curette will be a horizontal pass followed by the hyfrecator.  Finally, the third pass tends to be a diagonal pass with one last use of the hyfrecator.

This procedure allows us to remove the cancerous tissue and create a safety margin at the same time.

What happens after the procedure is complete? 

Afterwards, you will be left with a circular wound that will need to be cared for.  The wound will be a little bit bigger and deeper than before the procedure. However, the bleeding will have been stopped before you leave the office. We will apply a band-aid or pressure bandage along with some Vaseline.

It is rare for this type of procedure to cause an infection.  You will simply care for your wound with band-aids and Vaseline until the wound has healed.  You can get the area wet in 24 hours.

Most cases the circle scar will heal hypopigmented or lighter than your normal skin color.

Do I need to return to have suture removed? 

No, one of the benefits of an ED&C is that there are no sutures involved.  The only follow up you will need is to return for your next scheduled skin cancer screening.  Usually in six months.

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