If you read one of my posts from last year (click here), you will know that I tried Cryotherapy to remove a few age spots on my face. Boo to getting old. Boo to my face now revealing the damage caused by years of baking in the sun. Boo to the word age spot too. It is also known as a liver spot or solar lentigo – I’m going with solar lentigo, sounds less old. I digress…
I recently returned to the Bay Dermatology Centre to remove another solar lentigo. And this is when I discovered Electrocautery.
Dr. Salsberg took a look at my face and suggested that we could do Cryotherapy again, or perhaps consider Electrocautery, which was her preference. Well, I don’t remember her actually saying “Electrocautery” per se, as I would have been a little intimidated if she used that word, but she described it as an electric needle. She said recovery was similar to Cryotherapy (i.e. a scab would form, which would eventually fall off) but that overall, the Electrocautery process is more precise. It would only take a few minutes. She couldn’t guarantee that either procedure would avoid any scarring, but that based on the results from my last Cryotherapy session, she felt that the chances of scarring with Electrocautery were minimal.
Electrocautery…what a scary word, sounds daunting doesn’t it? Here is an official definition:
1. An instrument for directing a high-frequency current through a local area of tissue.
2. A metal cauterizing instrument heated by electricity.
3. The cauterization of tissue by means of one of these instruments.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Here is my take on Electrocautery, as again there isn’t a lot of information out there (especially from a patient’s perspective):
- After a quick wipe down with alcohol, Dr. Salsberg immediately went to work. She said it would sting, and it sure did. It feels like your skin is burning (well, I guess it literally is!)
- She would pinpoint the needle on the solar lentigo for a few seconds, stop, wipe the area with a soft tissue and then repeat. It only took a few minutes to remove it.
- What I didn’t realize is that she actually removes the solar lentigo. You see, with Cryotherapy, your skin is sprayed with liquid nitrogen; the spot turns much darker in colour, then starts to blister (which looks gross), a scab forms and then after a week+, the scab falls off. In the case of Electrocautery, the solar lentigo is completely removed from the get-go; raw skin is revealed and a scab will slowly form that eventually falls off. Visually, Electrocautery is the way to go. So I have a red spot on my face for now…I’d rather have this then a dark, gross blister scab!
- I didn’t take a look at the whole apparatus or the electric needle before or after the procedure. It did however look very non-descript when I saw it hanging on the wall. I was just glad it was over. I hate any reference to a “needle” although certainly this did not penetrate the skin (only the surface).
- I asked Dr. Salsberg whether I should be using Polysporin vs. Vaseline. She said that reports have shown that both are equally effective, but it must be Polysporin ointment (I’m using the Triple antibiotic vitamin E enriched formula). She advised that I should refrain from touching the spot, and ensure I keep it constantly moist with the ointment.
It’s day 3 and so far so good! There is still some redness; not sure if that is an after effect of the procedure or a reaction to the Polysporin (or both?). And there isn’t a major scab, hope that’s OK. Here is my photo journey to-date:
Keep you all posted with the final results!