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Warts and Plantar Warts (cont.)

Surgery

Surgery is an option if home treatment and treatment at your doctor's office has failed. Surgery for warts is usually quick and effective. No single surgical method is more effective than another in curing warts. Generally, doctors start with the surgical method that is least likely to cause scarring.

Surgery Choices

The most common types of surgical treatment for wart removal include:

  • Electrosurgery and curettage. Electrosurgery is burning the wart with an electrical current. Curettage is cutting the wart off with a sharp knife or a small, spoon-shaped tool. The two procedures are often used together.
  • Laser surgery. Laser surgery burns off the wart with an intense beam of light.

For electrosurgery, curettage, and laser surgery, a local anesthetic is used to numb the skin before the procedure.

What To Think About

A wart may return after surgery because surgery removes the wart but does not destroy the virus that causes the wart.

The type of surgery used to remove warts depends on their type, location, and size. Curettage, electrosurgery, and laser surgery are more likely than cryotherapy to leave scars and thus are usually reserved for hard-to-remove or recurring warts. If you have a large area of warts, curettage may not be an effective treatment.

Some surgical treatments may be too painful for some children.

When making a decision about surgical wart removal, consider the following factors:

  • Scarring. Nonsurgical treatments are less likely to cause scarring than surgical treatments. Scars that develop after surgery on the sole of the foot (for plantar warts) can be very painful.
  • Pain. The pain from the surgical treatment usually comes from the injection of local anesthetic, not from the procedure itself. You may have pain after the drug wears off. Except for paring, all surgical treatments require anesthetic.
  • Cost of treatment. Surgery can be expensive.
  • Duration of treatment. Surgical treatments remove warts more quickly than nonsurgical treatments. But some treatments require repeat office visits.
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