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Electrocautery removes 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.
The recovery time depends on the location and number of warts removed.
Electrocautery removes warts with little blood loss. It usually is used for small areas of warts.
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.1
The 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 removed.
Risks of electrocautery are:
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. 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.
Last Revised: June 21, 2012
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