What is electrocautery?
Electrocautery is a bedside procedure where your doctor will use an ‘electric pen’ to deliver high frequency electric current onto the skin to generate heat in order to stop bleeding or remove abnormal skin cells
- Minimal downtime
- Minimal scarring
What can electrocautery be used on?
- Warts/Molluscum contagiosum
- Skin tag
- Sebaceous hyperplasia
- Seborrheic keratosis
- Fine blood vessels
What results can I expect?
After the procedure, the abnormal skin lesions are left with a small pink superficial wound. Over the course of days, the wound will heal with a tiny scab. Once the new healthy skin regrows, the scab will eventually fall off.
How many sessions do I need?
Usually 1 session should suffice. Your doctor may advise you to return to clinic in 1-2 weeks time for follow up of the procedural site
If you have cardiac devices such as pacemaker or implantable defibrillator, you are advised to inform your doctor before procedure
Electrocautery is a procedure that uses electric-heated electrodes to destroy unwanted skin tissue, or achieving blood clots (hemostasis). High temperature heat wave is generated when the electric current runs through the metal electrodes during electrocautery procedure. This simple procedure can be done in outpatient or clinical setting.
Electrocautery is usually performed under local anaesthesia- either through numbing cream or injection to the concerning area. Hence, the procedure should be well-tolerated with minimal discomfort or pain. If you have reduced pain threshold, you are encouraged to let your doctor know.
This depends on the size of the skin area that is electrocauterized. As a general rule, it can take 1 to 6 weeks for skin healing. The bigger the surface area that has been electrocauterized, the longer the healing time. After procedure, your doctor may prescribe you topical medicated cream to promote healing and reduce risk of infection. Your doctor will follow you up in 4 to 6 weeks to monitor the outcome and progress after the electrocautery procedure.
After electrocautery procedure, the treated area will appear slightly red, occasionally a little oozy. If it is oozy, your doctor may advise you to apply pressure bandage to the affected region. Over time, the treated area will slowly heal with scabs, and the scab will fall off spontaneously within 1-2 weeks, leaving behind healthy new pink new skin tissues. After the skin heals, the skin tone can be slightly lighter or darker for months before evens out eventually.
Electrocautery is safe, though if you have pacemaker or implantable defibrillator, you should inform your doctor before procedure.
Yes, it is safe, and there are no major side effects. You may notice mild stinging, discomfort, tingling sensation during the procedure. You should be able to return to your normal daily routine immediately after your electrocautery procedure.
Patients with pacemaker or implantable defibrillator should inform their doctor and cardiologist before considering electrocautery procedure. This is because occasionally the electric current from electrocautery device may interfere with the function of the cardio device. Electrocautery procedure should be used with caution over surgical implant site, scar region or excessive hair region.
If the wound surface area is large, you are advised to keep the wound area dry for 24-48 hour. After that, you are allowed to have normal shower or bath.
If the electrocauterized region is over the face, with small surface area, you can wash your face with gentle soap and water 6 hours after procedure.
After-care advice will be given upon completion of the electrocautery procedure.
You can return to your daily routine immediately after treatment, though you should keep the electrocauterized skin area dry for at least 1 day. In certain location of the body or limbs, your doctor may advise for protective bandage to cover the region, preventing the wound from rubbing or friction. The wound area can be cleaned with normal saline once to twice a day, and topical medicated cream/ emollients may be encouraged by your doctor to promote healing. Over time, the wound will be covered with a small scab. Avoid picking on the scab, the scab will fall off itself 4-6 weeks later.
Electrocautery procedure is a relatively well-tolerated procedure with minimal side effect or downtime. Although the treated skin area can be slightly oozy, the bleeding risk is minimal as electrocautery procedure can clot-off bleeding vessels on the wound. As of any skin procedure, there is a small risk of infection. Your doctor or nurse will give after-care advice and antibiotics to reduce the chance of developing infection. One may notice mild stinging or burning feeling over the electrocauterized region. Your doctor may prescribe simple analgesia to manage the pain.
No, they are different. Laser procedure uses different wavelength frequency of light to generate heat and deliver them to the affected skin region in order to cause tissue destruction and stop bleeding. Electrocautery, on the other hand, uses electric current to deliver heat via metal pads onto the skin area to achieve the skin outcome. Both methods when use proficiently, produce good results.