genital warts on the penis, vulva, or around the anus
by burning them with a low-voltage electrified probe.
Electrocautery is usually done in a doctor's office or
a clinic. The injection of a numbing medicine (local anesthetic) is usually used for pain control. Medicine that causes
unconsciousness (general anesthetic) may be used
depending on the number of warts to be removed or destroyed.
What To Expect After Surgery
The recovery time depends on the
location and number of warts removed.
After surgery you may have some pain, swelling, and
Healing usually occurs within 2 to 4
Healing time may be prolonged if a large area of tissue is
Scarring may occur.
Why It Is Done
Electrocautery removes warts with
little blood loss. It usually is used for small areas of warts.
How Well It Works
In one study, electrocautery was
effective for about 8 out of 10 people in removing warts and stopping them from coming back 6
months after treatment. Warts are less likely to return after electrocautery
than after medicine treatment.footnote 1
removal of genital warts may not cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
The virus may remain in the body in an inactive state after warts are
Risks of electrocautery are:
Bleeding. Blood loss is usually minimal, because
the electrocautery seals blood vessels as it removes
Infection. Antibiotics may be given at the time of the
procedure to reduce the risk of infection.
Pain. Medicine may be
needed for several days after the electrocautery procedure.
What To Think About
Electrocautery for external genital
warts can be safely used during pregnancy.
Treating genital warts
may not cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The virus may remain in
the body in an inactive state after warts are removed. A person treated for
genital warts may still be able to spread the infection. Latex condoms may help
reduce the risk of HPV infection.
The benefits and effectiveness
of each type of treatment need to be compared with the side effects and cost.
Discuss this with your health professional.
Buck HW (2010). Warts (genital), search date December 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerKevin C. Kiley, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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