Minor Operations

A minor operation is a procedure carried out in the treatment room at the Whangamata Medical Centre using local anaesthetic. This is done to remove a skin lesion to help with diagnosis or as a treatment for certain types of skin lesions or for cosmetic reasons or a combination of the above.

We use an iodine-based cleanser so please tell the Nurse if you have ever had an allergy to iodine.  The anaesthetic is administered using a very fine needle but the solution causes some initial stinging in the skin, which settles quite quickly.  You should not feel any sharp pain after the area has been anaesthetised.  When the anaesthetic has worn off (in a few hours) you may require paracetamol but stronger pain relief is not usually required.

Almost always tissue that is removed is sent to the laboratory to help with the diagnosis.  We usually have a result within five days and your doctor will discuss this with you at a follow-up visit. If you would like the biopsy tissue returned to you please discuss this with the doctor doing the operation.

Cutting the skin leaves a scar.  The procedure will be performed in such a way that the scar is in the line of skin creases but it will still be visible. You can reduce scarring by keeping the wound taped with steri-strip tapes for about a month as this helps to keep the elastic tissue from stretching. Some people are prone to develop lumpy inflamed scars called keloid.  If this appears to be happening let your doctor know, as there is treatment available to help with this.

Sometimes there will be complications to minor surgical procedures including wound infection, breakdown of the wound (particularly on the lower limbs and back) and sometimes numbness in the vicinity of the wound.  Excessive bleeding can be a problem, in particular if you are taking warfarin. Please let the doctor know if you are taking this medication. Aspirin is not a problem. Other complications are very rare.

Some lesions, in particular melanomas but also some other skin cancers, will require a second procedure to ensure that all of the affected tissue has been removed.

When you book for a minor operation you will be given a half hour appointment.  We will routinely follow-up the next day to change the dressing and sutures may be removed from 5 days to 2 weeks later depending on the site of the lesion.  You may need extra appointments if the wound becomes infected or if it is in an area of poor blood supply.

We have tried to keep the cost of minor surgery as low as possible as we do not want this to be barrier, but the extra time involved for the doctor and the nurses and the materials used all add to the cost. The current charge for a minor surgical procedure is $155 including GST.  This covers the procedure and two follow-up visits. Extra visits will be charged at approximately $20 a time.  If cost is a problem please discuss this with your doctor.  For those with health insurance, check and see if your insurance company is funding minor surgery in primary care now, as many have elected to.  Alternative arrangements for minor surgery such as private specialist or public hospital specialist services are available and you might like to discuss these with your doctor.