Electrodessication and curettage is a common way in which non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma are treated.

What is Electrodessication and Curettage?

Electrodessication and curettage is a method of removing skin cancers.  The skin is cleansed and then a numbing agent is injected in to the area around the skin cancer.  A curette, which is a sharp blade-like instrument, is used to "scrape off" the cancerous cells.  After scraping, the cancerous cells are then burned with an electric needle.  The process is usually repeated to ensure that all of the abnormal cells are gone.

What are the Side Effects of Electrodessication and Curettage?

  • This procedure is very safe.  Serious complications are exceptionally rare
  • After the procedure, there will be a wound where the skin cancer was.  This wound will heal in 1-4 weeks, leaving a red patch that fades to a scar
  • Scars from electrodessication and curettage are usually the size of the final wound at the end of the procedure.  This is usually a few millimetres larger than the original skin cancer.  Some people are genetically prone to the development of hypertrophic scars or keloids and can develop raised, red scars at the site of any surgical procedure
  • Infection is uncommon but can occur with any surgical procedure.  It is important to follow the wound care instructions.

How Should I Take Care of the Sites where I have been Treated with Electrodessication and Curettage?

  • Keep the area dry for 24 hours
  • Apply Vaseline or Polysporin ointment twice per day to any areas treated on the face and scalp and once per day to areas on the body
  • Change the bandage on the body (bandages are not needed on the face or scalp) every day for 14 days
  • There will be a scab that heals within 1-4 weeks
  • Protect the skin from the sun once the scab has healed (and always) by wearing sun-protective clothing or a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher