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Electrodessication & Curettage (ED&C)

Electrodessication and curettage (ED&C) is a surgical technique where a skin lesion is scraped off and heat is applied to the skin surface. It is commonly used to treat pre-cancers, seborrheic keratosis, other skin disorders, or for cosmetic concerns.

Electrodessication & Curettage (ED&C)

1. Electrodessication is known by many names

Electrodessication & Curettage (ED&C) is also referred to as electrosurgery, electrocoagulation, electrocautery, or thermocautery. In dermatology, these terms often refer to the same surgical technique - applying heat to a specific area of the skin to stop bleeding and destroy skin cells (a medical concern) or undesired skin growths (a cosmetic concern).

2. ED&C is primarily used to treat medical conditions

ED&C is a common technique used for treating superficial (surface level) disorders such as seborrheic keratoses, keratoacanthomas, and pyogenic granulomas.

3. It can also be used for cosmetic concerns

ED&C is often used to treat skin tags which are a common, harmless skin growth that appears to hang off the skin. Skin tags develop in both men and women as they grow older. They are skin-colored or darker and range in size from 1mm to 5cm. They are most often found in the skin folds (neck, armpits, groin). They tend to be more numerous in obese persons and in those with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

4. ED&C treatment involves a series of steps

ED&C treatment is best suited for surface-level lesions where the skin scraped off is softer than the surrounding skin or when there is a natural cleavage plane between the lesion and the surrounding normal tissue. If it is not suited, then your dermatologist will choose another method such as a skin excision. Skin cancer tumors are also not suited for ED&C since malignant cells may be deeper than what a curette can scrape away.

Prior to the ED&C session, you will be asked to apply numbing cream to the specific area. After the numbing medication takes full effect, the dermatologist begins scraping your skin using a medical instrument called a curette. This part of the procedure is performed for several minutes, using the tool to scrape in different directions to remove all the undesired tissue.

Image of a medical curette
Medical curette

Once curetting is complete, the electrodessication part of the procedure begins. Using an electrocautery machine, heat is applied to the treated area causing the blood vessels to coagulate and close up. This process may be repeated until the specific area under treatment is cauterized.

5. ED&C treatment does not hurt and the skin heals quickly

Since a numbing cream is applied, the procedure is relatively painless. After cauterization the patient can drive home immediately after the appointment, The treated skin heals quickly within a few days. Patients are requested to follow good skincare hygiene during the healing process.

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