Surgical Procedures

In veterinary dermatology, surgical procedures are frequently recommended to facilitate a more accurate diagnosis or to provide a more rapid path to recovery. The specialists at Animal Dermatology Clinic are adept at using utilizing surgical procedures to contribute to better treatment outcomes for your pet. And with advanced use of CO2 laser surgery pioneered by Animal Dermatology Clinic dermatologists, we can address challenging dermatological conditions while reducing your pet’s time in surgery and accelerating their recovery.

Skin Biopsy

Skin biopsy, the most common type of surgery performed in pets, is the process of obtaining a small sample of skin or a skin lesion to provide more in-depth information about a particular disease, infection, growth or tumor. This procedure, almost always done outpatient and requiring only local anesthesia, helps more accurately diagnose deep infections, immune mediated diseases, differentiate between benign and malignant growths, and helps meet other diagnostic needs.

Biopsies are one of the most informative procedures that can be performed on your pet and, along with expert interpretation of the biopsy sample, may be the difference between identifying the right path toward resolution of a problem and a wrong or incomplete diagnosis.


Cryosurgery is a medical procedure for rapidly freezing tissue in order to destroy abnormal or unwanted skin lesions, such as skin tags, warts, cysts, etc. A very cold substance (nitrous oxide) is expertly applied to a pet’s lesion with pinpoint accuracy. The tissue will scab, or 'crust' over within a few days and simply fall off within 14 days of the procedure. Cryosurgery is a safe, quick procedure that does not require sedation and results in little discomfort to your pet.


Dr. Rosenberg performing a Cryosurgery treatment to remove a small skin growth.


One of the advantages of Cryosurgery is that no sedation is required for most procedures.

C02 Laser Surgery

Animal Dermatology Clinic employs CO2 laser surgery to perform more advanced and efficient surgical procedures, often with much less pain on recovery. CO2 lasers are often used in areas where traditional surgeries are not possible, such as within the earl canal, and can also be helpful in areas with good blood supply and where excess bleeding might occur, like the nose. This tool allows our dermatologists to make precise incisions with more limited bleeding than traditional surgery.

Since dermatologists often see patients with multiple lesions, CO2 laser surgery is ideally suited for our field. While traditional surgery for multiple lesions can take hours of cutting and suturing each individual site, with a CO2 laser, the procedure can often be done in half the time and the healing is rapid.

Specialized surgical procedures performed using a CO2 laser include removal of recurrent draining sores between the toes, ablation of skin cancer such as squamous cell carcinoma in cats, removal of growths or lesions on the pet’s nose and removal of some masses within the ear canal.

1 01 Sebaceous adenomas


2 02 Sebaceous adenomas

Immediately Post Surgery

3 03 Sebaceous adenomas 10 days post sx

10 days Post Surgery

Find Out if Surgery is an Option for Your Pet’s Condition

While many pet owners consider surgery a last resort for their pets, often early surgical intervention may prevent further progression of disease, provide your pet relief and improve their quality of life.

The dermatologists and care team at Animal Dermatology Clinic are always happy to discuss whether a specific surgical procedure is the right choice for your pet.

Laser Surgery

Surgical Procedures FAQs

CO2 laser surgery is a surgical procedure that performed using a carbon dioxide laser in place of a scalpel blade or other instruments. Advantages of using a CO2 laser include less pain on recovery, less inflammation and faster recovery. When removing surface lesions or growths, the CO2 laser often allows multiple masses to be excised without suturing each site and in a much shorter surgical procedure.

Recovery time depends on the type of surgery being performed, but in general, recovery time is faster following CO2 laser surgery compared to conventional surgery procedures.

CO2 surgery procedures are typically less painful than those performed using conventional scalpels and other tools. Like most types of surgeries, CO2 surgery requires sedation or general anesthesia, but recovery is often rapid.

Potential side effects or complications from CO2 laser surgery are uncommon and the same as with any surgery. These may include swelling, discomfort or pain at the surgery site, and, very rarely, secondary postoperative infections. These events are uncommon and happen less often than with conventional surgical techniques.

In general pets should be kept quiet and inactive the day and evening following a surgical procedure. When a pet can return to normal activity and habits may vary and should be based on the specific medical advice provided for your pet after his/her procedure.

A skin biopsy is a surgical procedure but is typically considered a minor procedure and routinely an outpatient procedure.

Skin biopsy is the process of obtaining a small sample of skin or a skin lesion to provide more in-depth information about a particular disease, infection, growth or tumor. This procedure is used to diagnose challenging or deep infections, immune mediated diseases, differentiate between benign and malignant growths and many diagnostic needs. It is often the most informative procedure that can be performed and may be the difference between identifying the right path for resolution of a problem and the wrong diagnosis.

Whether or not a pet needs to be sedated for a biopsy depends on several factors including the nature and location of the lesion(s) being sampled, the temperament of the pet, the pet’s age and any other health conditions present. For most pets, sedation for biopsy can make the procedure faster and much less stressful.

Skin biopsy is typically not painful at all. Prior to performing the biopsy, a pet is sedated and then a local anesthetic is injected just below the skin at the site of the biopsy. This provides numbness of the area that may last 2-3 hours after the procedure.

Skin biopsy is typically a rapid procedure. Exact length of time may vary depending on the number and location of sites being biopsied and speed of sedation for an individual. Typical times may range from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Results from biopsies may take 1-3 weeks to return. When samples are obtained, they are placed in a preservative and sent to a laboratory for processing and tissue staining. The samples are then forwarded to a dermatopathologist for review and analysis. Once findings are recorded by the dermatopathologist they are forwarded to the veterinary dermatologist for review and further treatment decisions. In some cases, special stains or advanced analysis may be needed and may require additional steps and time.

Side effects of biopsies are typically minimal. They may include itching or pain at the biopsy site, swelling or bleeding. If any of these are extreme, pet owners should contact their veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist who performed the procedure. Pet owners are encouraged to keep biopsy sites covered or have the pet wear an Elizabethan collar until sutures are removed to prevent trauma to the biopsy site.

When a biopsy is planned, pet owners are encouraged to fast their animals the night before since sedation or anesthesia may be needed. They should also avoid doing any cleaning, bathing or medication application to the skin lesions being sampled.

Cryosurgery, the rapid freezing of an abnormal skin growth or lesion, is a safe, quick procedure (usually between 5 to 30 seconds) that does not require sedation or anesthesia and results in little discomfort for your pet.


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