When I informed a patient earlier this week that I would be happy to surgically remove his skin cancer, I was surprised by his response. “I didn’t know you were a surgeon,” he said. He was under the misunderstanding that dermatologists did not perform surgery.
Most dermatologists do not perform surgery in a hospital operating room, but we do perform a lot of cutaneous surgery.
How much? According to data from Medicare and Medicaid:
- Dermatologists performed more excisions of malignant skin lesions than any other specialty.
- Dermatologists performed 454,012 excisions of malignant lesions in 2004 (the latest data available). This was four times more than the next closest specialty, Plastic Surgery, which performed 112,412 excisions of malignant lesions.
- Dermatologists also performed more benign and malignant excisions, complex skin repairs, flaps, dermabrasions, laser treatments, chemical peels, and Mohs procedures of any specialty.
Certainly surgeons in Plastic Surgery, General Surgery, Oculoplastics, and Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery are trained in skin procedures and have expertise and training in areas outside of dermatology.
But do dermatologists do surgery? Yep. We sure do.