Destruction/Excision of Vaginal & Cervix Lesions

Understanding the basics of cervical and vaginal lesion removal procedures

Lesions, if left alone, can cause diseases or other medical complications in your body, particularly with older women. For this reason, your OB/GYN may recommend removing the lesions as a preventative measure.

However, when you hear the term “destruction of lesions,” it can sound like a scary procedure. You’ll probably have a lot of questions. Our experts at All About Women are here to put your mind at ease and walk you through this common procedure step-by-step.

What are lesions?

Lesion is a generic term that refers to abnormal tissue. The term may refer to an abscess, polyp, tumor, wound or sore that develops in the cervix or vagina.

What’s the difference between destruction vs. excision to remove lesions?

Cervical or vaginal lesions may be removed via excision or destruction. Excision involves cutting the abnormal tissue away from the healthy tissue. Destruction requires performing one of various procedures designed to break down the lesion at the site, which destroys the cells in the process. Destruction is performed when a biopsy is not needed to identify the tissue.

Tissue destruction may be the preferred method when vaginal or cervical lesions aren’t believed to be malignant. Precancerous lesions, or cervical dysplasia, might also be eliminated in this way if it has been determined that the cells have not metastasized (spread) to other regions in the reproductive system or anywhere else in the body.

How are lesions destroyed?

The most common methods used to destroy lesions may involve chemosurgery, electrosurgery or laser surgery.

  • Chemosurgery. A compound known as 5-fluorouracil is the chemical often used for this procedure. The compound is applied directly to the lesion, which causes necrosis (or cell death) in benign, malignant or pre-cancerous cells. The dead tissue is then removed using a scalpel and the site is sutured.

  • Electrosurgery. This method might be chosen for cervix lesion removal when the affected area is small. The process involves putting a small loop-shaped surgical wire around the lesion. Electric current is then transmitted through the loop to contact the site. The current cauterizes blood vessels, destroys the cells at the base of the lesion and cuts away the tissue. The site is then sutured closed.

  • Laser surgery. During this procedure, a small laser is directed to the surface of the lesion, which instantly vaporizes the abnormal cells. Once the surgeon determines that the entire lesion has been treated, the site is cleansed with saline and left to heal without sutures.

Why is lesion removal done and why is it needed?

Destroying lesions is often recommended for women having warts. Physicians might also recommend the procedure for benign growths known as granulation tissue after surgery.

What should I expect from this procedure?

Upon arriving for the appointment, a nurse or surgical technician will provide you with a drape and ask you to remove all clothing from below the waist. You will lie on an examination table with feet positioned in stirrups. The procedure might be performed using oral or injection anesthesia.

A speculum may be inserted into the vagina to access the site. The necessary destructive procedure will then be performed.  Once you are able, you will be released with post-operative instructions.

How can I prepare for a lesion excision or destruction procedure?

Most procedures do not require a lot of preparation in advance. Patients are typically advised to continue eating and drinking normally. You should avoid sexual intercourse for 24 hours before the procedure. You may be allowed to take ibuprofen or other medication prior to the procedure, but you’ll have to ask your physician.

Is there any pain or discomfort?

You may experience a pinch when the local anesthetic is administered. During the tissue destruction, pain is typically mild or nonexistent.

After the procedure, women may experience lower abdominal cramping or aching for the first couple of days. There may be swelling and a slight discharge along with pinching or tightness. Women may be advised to take ibuprofen for the pain or receive a prescription.

What are the possible risks and complications?

Laser surgery is associated with a risk of bleeding or damage to nearby healthy tissue. The site may develop an infection. Other rare, but potential complications from lesion excision or destruction procedures include:

  • Temporarily difficult to void or defecate
  • Blood clot development
  • Post-op nausea and vomiting

What is the recovery time for this procedure?

Most procedures typically require 1-3 weeks to heal. Women will receive post-op instructions to aid in the healing process.

You should seek additional medical intervention from your doctor if:

  • You develop a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher that lasts more than 24 hours.
  • There is persistent swelling, warmth and tenderness.
  • You experience pain that does not respond to medication.
  • There is excessive bleeding or persistent odorous discharge.
  • You have difficulty breathing.

The knowledgeable Florida OB/GYN specialists at All About Women Obstetrics & Gynecology in Gainesville and Lake City offer the most compassionate, comprehensive healthcare for women of all ages across North Florida.

If you have any questions about a lesion removal procedure or other women’s health issues, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our experts.