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Surgical Removal of Genital Warts by Excision

British Columbia Specific Information

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HPV can cause genital warts and cancers of the anus, cervix, mouth and throat, penis, vagina, and vulva. The HPV vaccines protect against infection from certain types of HPV, however, they do not get rid of the infection once it has occurred.

Health Canada has approved 2 HPV vaccines:

  • Cervarix® (HPV2)
  • Gardasil®9 (HPV9)

To determine if you are eligible to receive the free vaccine, see HealthLinkBC File #101b Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines, visit ImmunizeBC – HPV (Human Papillomavirus), or speak with a public health nurse at your local public health unit. Those not eligible for the free HPV vaccine can purchase it at most pharmacies and travel clinics and at some sexual health clinics.

To learn more about HPV infection, see HealthLinkBC File #101a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection and Genital Warts. For more information on STIs, sexual health information, where to get tested and other sexual health services in your area, visit SmartSexResource.

Surgery Overview

Visible genital warts on the penis or vagina or around the anus can be removed by excision. This means cutting off the warts with a surgical knife (scalpel). Warts on the cervix may be removed by laser or loop electrosurgical excision (LEEP).

The procedure is usually done in a doctor's office or clinic or an outpatient surgery centre. You receive medicine that numbs the area around the warts (local anesthetic).

What To Expect

Recovery time depends on the location and number of warts removed.

  • Most people will be able to return to normal activities within 1 to 3 days.
  • Healing takes 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Scarring may occur.

Avoid sexual intercourse until the treated area heals and soreness is gone. (This usually takes 1 to 3 weeks. It depends on the size of the area treated.)

Why It Is Done

Surgery is used to remove warts that return after other treatments. It also may be used when warts are widespread. A single treatment may be all that is needed.

How Well It Works

Surgery often works well to treat genital warts. Most of the time it removes warts. But warts may grow back.

Risks

Risks of surgery are:

  • Scarring.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection. You may receive antibiotics at the time of the procedure, to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Pain. You may need medicine for several days after the procedure.

Credits

Current as of:
February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kevin C. Kiley MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology