What Is the Difference between an Incision and an Excision?

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  • Written By: A. Reed
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Surgeons use specialized surgical skills generally referred to as an incision and an excision. An incision is the deliberate cut that is performed into the body's tissues, while an excision involves taking tissue out, such as with a biopsy or an inflamed appendix. As surgeons work with a large number of both incisions and excisions, their uses are governed by what specifically needs to be accomplished surgically and the health condition of the patient. The difference between an incision and an excision can also be determined simply by looking at their terms.

​​Gaining access to the internal environment is the purpose of an incision, and an excision is done specifically for curative treatment, generally for the removal of diseased tissue or organs. When it has been determined that a patient has a tumor inside of his or her organs, a surgical procedure referred to as a biopsy becomes necessary, which requires an incision and an excision for tissue removal. The tissue is then viewed microscopically to determine whether there is a malignancy. This helps the physician provide a diagnosis and an effective regimen for treatment.


Many types of incisions and excisions are used, which are mostly determined by the kind of surgical procedure being conducted. Vertically produced in the middle of the abdomen, midline incisions such as with a laparotomy, are primarily done to go into the abdominal cavity. A lumbotomy is a type of incision done posteriorly to gain access to the kidneys, such as with a nephrectomy or kidney transplantation. Used to remove burns, sequential excisions involve removal of deadened skin tissue layers in preparation for adding skin grafts. Lobectomies are excisions performed to remove a section of an organ such as the brain or lungs.

Suturing is performed to close an incision, while an excision does not typically require this. Necessary for proper healing of bodily tissues, sutures result from the actual sewing together of edges of tissue so that they are held in position to facilitate the healing process. Although suturing is commonly done, it is not the only way to close up a surgical wound. Staples and medical adhesive tape are examples of other methods used to accomplish the same goal.

Medical terminology used for an incision and an excision can be recognized by their suffixes. For example, if the surgical procedure involves an incision, the term for it will terminate with the ending "otomy," such as with an episiotomy, the cut made into the perineum during childbirth to prevent traumatic tearing of tissues. The suffix "ectomy" is utilized when referring to an excision of tissue, such as with an appendectomy, the removal of an infected appendix.


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Post 2

Rundocuri, healing without major scarring also depends on how well the patient follows the doctor's instructions. Poor diet, inadequate wound care, failure to take prescribed medications, and smoking can all increase the likelihood that a patient will scar from an incision or an excision.

Post 1

Whether performing and incision or an excision, a skilled surgeon will be able to make the cut as small as possible, and stitch it in the best possible way to minimize scarring.

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