Electrodesiccation

What is electrodesiccation?

Electrodesiccation is a minor procedure that heats the cells to remove their water content, destroying any signs of benign and/or precancerous growths. By using an electric current delivered through a needle-shaped electrode device, it superheats the lesion to cauterize it. Sometimes, a spoon-shaped instrument known as a curette, may also be used to scrape away abnormal skin cells.

Did you know…

Our skin maintains electrical properties, like ionic activity, through electrodes on the skin’s surface. Researchers have compared the physical properties of a healthy skin to an irritated skin due to benign and cancerous skin growths. These measurements helped find that electric activation of the tissues could destroy lesions causing the irritation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are candidates for electrodesiccation?

Candidates for electrodesiccation include patients with:

  • Benign skin growths, such as skin tags, warts, or seborrheic keratosis
  • Precancerous skin conditions, such as actinic keratosis.
  • Low-risk superficial basal or squamous cell carcinoma.
How is electrodesiccation performed?

Although this treatment is well tolerated without local anesthesia, you may ask for topical lidocaine to slightly numb the skin. Once your skin is fully prepped, your provider will turn on the desiccator and lightly dab the lesions with the electrode.To aid in the healing process and soothe any discomfort from the heat, a thin layer of Aquaphor Healing Ointment will be applied. If your lesions are more raised, your provider may scrape the top of the abnormal tissue with a curette and cauterize the wound to stop any bleeding. For low-risk cancerous growths, this procedure may require multiple sessions.

What are the side effects of electrodesiccation?

Some side effects of electrodesiccation include pain, swelling, crusting, and bleeding at the affected site. For some, scarring may develop, which can become itchy and painful. For patients with low-risk basal or squamous cells, the recurrence of the cancerous cells is possible and additional treatment may be necessary. If you develop any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your provider.

What cosmetic concerns can electrodesiccation treat?

You can destroy small lesions like skin tags, cherry angiomas, seborrheic keratoses, and warts with electrodesiccation. It’s important to speak to your provider about your cosmetic concerns and share your medical history to determine the route of treatment.

What is the recovery time and wound management?

The wound from electrodesiccation will typically heal on its own. Depending on the area you were treated, the recovery time may vary from two weeks to three months. You should avoid washing the treated areas during the first 24 to 48 hours to ensure proper healing. Use a gentle, fragrance-free soap to wash the areas and apply an antibiotic healing ointment like Aquaphor to further assist with healing.