The area around the skin cancer will be cleansed and numbed with a local anesthesia (typically the same anesthesia that was used for the biopsy). Once the area is numb, a small layer of tissue is removed. The tissue is carefully mapped and coded by the surgeon and taken to the adjacent laboratory, where the technician will immediately process the microscopic slides. You will have a temporary bandage placed over the wound, and you will be able to return to the waiting room.
The surgical procedure alone takes only 10 to 20 minutes. However, it takes a minimum of 60 minutes to prepare and microscopically examine the tissue. Several surgical stages and microscopic examinations may be required, and you will be asked to wait between stages. Although there is no way to tell before surgery how many stages will be necessary, most cancers are removed in three or fewer stages.