Electrocautery/Thermal Cautery

What is electrocautery ?

Electrocautery is the procedure of destroying tissue using heat conduction from a metal probe heated by electric current. The electricity is used to heat the needle which is put on the tissue. The electricity is not sent into your body. High frequency alternating current is used in electrocautery. It can be continuous waveform (cuts the tissue) or intermittent type (coagulates the tissue).

Electrocauterization is preferable to chemical cauterization because chemicals can leach into neighbouring tissue and cauterize outside of the intended boundaries.

How electrocautery works?

Electrocautery is the process of heating tissue with electricity and because of heating, tissue destroyed. So basically electricity convert into heat because of resistance and generated heat destroys tissue.

What are the indications of electrocautery?

Actinic keratosis.

Cherry angioma.

Dermatosis papulosa nigra.




Mucous cysts.

Molluscum contagiosum.

Sebaceous cyst.

Necrotized tissue.

Skin tags.

Small epidermal nevi.


Xanthelasma palpebrum.

Who should not do electrocautery?

In following conditions we should not do the procedure-

Cardiac patient especially if on pace-maker.

Very large lesion.

Keloidal tendency.

Infected lesion or active infection, where we want to do the procedure.

Uncontrolled diabetes.

What care require before and after electrocautery the procedure?

Protection of normal surrounding tissue.

Doctor should treat large lesion in multiple sittings.

Doctor will prescribe topical as well as oral antibiotics and other medications. Person should take those medication properly and follow instructions properly to avoid complications.

What are the advantages of this procedure?

Minimal scarring with fast healing.

Minimal bleeding.

Simple rapid office procedure.

Often completed in single sitting.

Excellent result.

Good patient compliance.

Minimal side effects.

What are the disadvantages of this procedure?

Malodorous fume production.

Depth and field of destruction difficult to control.

Infection especially in open wound.

Can we combine this procedure with other procedures?

Yes we can combine this procedure with other procedures like –

Chemical cautery.


What are the side effects of electrocautery procedure?

Mild burning, swelling, irritation.