of General Surgery
1. What are
Lumps that are palpable or even visible just under the skin are very
common. There are a wide range of causes of skin lumps, most of which are
harmless or benign, but a few are a pointer to a more serious condition.
I do if I have a Skin Lump?
advice is to consult your GP. If your GP feels that the lump requires
removal then an appointment with a hospital specialist can be arranged.
3. What will happen if I have a
Lump and I do nothing about it?
nothing, but if a lump is appeared recently, or is growing in size, or is
painful, or changes colour or produces blood or a discharge then it should be
What treatment is required for a
treatment depends on what the lump is. Usually a specialist can tell what the
lump is with a good degree of confidence just by examining the lump, but to be
100% sure a biopsy is required. A biopsy is a procedure where part (or
all) of the lump is removed and sent for microscopic examination. Usually,
complete removal of the lump is both the diagnosis and the cure and nothing else
needs to be done. Occasionally the lump shows evidence of a more serious
condition and further treatment can only be decided once the biopsy result is
5. What will happen if I need an operation on my
skin lumps are small (<2 cm) and are in, or just underneath, the skin.
These lumps can usually be removed using just a local anaesthetic either by your
GP or in your local hospital day surgery unit. Larger or deeper lumps may
require a general anaesthetic, but again most can be treated in your local day
6. What does the operation involve?
operation involves making an incision in the skin, removing the lump (usually
with a small amount of the normal surrounding tissue), then closing the incision
with stitches. Some surgeons use stitches that will dissolve in the body
and do not need to be removed, others used stitches that are removed after the
wound has healed (usually 1 to 3 weeks). Your surgeon will discuss which
method is appropriate before the operation..
7. What are the possible complications of a
This sort of
minor surgery is very low risk and any complications are usually related
to wound itself. Sometimes a small amount of bleeding occurs but it is
usually minor and settles just with simple pressure or a new dressing.
Infection can occur in any operation and is more likely if lumps are already
infected or removed from "dirty" areas. Such infections usually
settle quickly by themselves but may require antibiotics and/or drainage.
Other possible complications relate to damage to other structures during the
operation. The most likely is damage to small nerves which lie under the
skin and which are invisible to the surgeon. Damage to such a nerve may
cause a small area of numbness which of recovers and rarely causes a significant
8. How long does it take to recover?
Most patients find that about one week is required to
recover fully after minor surgery but this depends on the site and size of the
operation. How long you stay off work
is dependent on the type of work you do. Common
sense says “if it hurts don’t do it”.
9. Where can I go for help if I think there is a problem after the
If you are concerned then first read the printed
information that you should have been given.
that occur are minor and can be easily remedied using this advice. The
information should give a
telephone number at the hospital that you can call to ask for advice if you are
still worried. Only consider
calling your GP if you are advised by the hospital or you cannot contact the
hospital help line.
10. Will I need to come back to hospital after the operation?
Most patients do not need to be seen again in the
outpatient clinic after their skin lump operation. When the biopsy result
is available your specialist or GP should write to you with the result. If
your specialist feels that you should be seen then an
appointment will be made for you.
11. Will the operation cure all the symptoms?
Most patients are reassured by having the lump removed
and have complete
relief of their symptoms. It is normal for a scar to remain at the site of
the operation and this scar should fade progressively with time.
12. Will the
Lump come back?
most patients the lumps are removed completely and do not come back. The
risk of a lump coming back depends mainly on the nature of the lump and you
specialist can only advise you once the biopsy result is available.