The utility of re-excising mildly and moderately dysplastic nevi: a retrospective analysis

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Dec;71(6):1071-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2014.08.025. Epub 2014 Sep 26.


Background: The management of dysplastic nevi (DN) is a highly debated and controversial topic within the dermatology community. Clinicians agree that margin-positive severely DN should be removed with a surgical margin, however, there is disagreement surrounding the appropriate management of margin-positive mildly and moderately DN.

Objective: We sought to evaluate the utility of re-excising margin-positive mildly and moderately DN.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted on all adult patients given the diagnosis of a biopsy-proven DN from 2010 through 2011. The primary outcomes were defined as the presence of melanocytic residuum in re-excisional specimens and a clinically significant change in diagnosis.

Results: A total of 1809 mildly and moderately DN were diagnosed from 2010 through 2011. In all, 765 (42.3%) of these lesions were found to have positive surgical margins during biopsy, and 495 (64.7) of the 765 lesions were subsequently re-excised. Melanocytic residuum was present in 18.2% of re-excisional specimens. Re-excision resulted in a clinically significant alteration of the diagnosis in only 1 case (0.2%).

Limitations: Limitations include retrospective design and inability to assess for malignant transformation given limited follow-up.

Conclusions: Re-excising mildly and moderately DN results in a low histopathological yield and rarely results in a clinically significant change in diagnosis. As such, clinical monitoring of margin-positive lesions may be warranted.

Keywords: dermatopathology; dysplastic nevus; melanoma; nevus; pigmented lesions; surgical management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome / pathology*
  • Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanocytes / pathology*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery