Electrocauterization is a form of electrosurgery. It’s a technique that uses an electric current to cut tissue or create scars. Electrocautery may happen during surgery or as a stand-alone procedure.
Electrocautery is a technique that uses an electrical current to apply heat to tissue in order to:
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Any procedure that uses an electrosurgical unit (ESU) is electrosurgery. An ESU is a device that generates electricity to cut or manipulate tissue.
Electrocautery is a type of electrosurgery. It applies an electrical current directly to tissue. Another type is fulguration, which creates a spark that generates enough heat to kill targeted cells. Other electrosurgery methods deliver treatments by sending an electrical current through your body.
Healthcare providers use electrocauterization to:
Electrocauterization has many uses:
This technique uses a handheld device (probe) similar to a pen. An electric current heats the tip. Healthcare providers can adjust settings to control the temperature and energy level. The settings used depend on the goals of your procedure.
There are two ways to perform electrocautery:
What happens during the procedure depends on why you need electrocauterization.
For electrocautery that’s part of a surgical procedure, here’s what to expect:
If electrocauterization is part of a procedure on the surface layers of your skin, here’s what happens:
Electrocauterization has many benefits, including:
When electrocautery is part of a surgical procedure, following instructions from your healthcare provider can help you have a successful recovery.
For stand-alone electrocauterization, especially ones involving your skin, here’s what to expect:
Contact your healthcare provider if you experience:
At-home electrocautery devices are available. However, a healthcare provider can perform the safest, most effective electrocauterization. They have the experience to deliver treatment to the right spot. They also use research-based techniques to protect you from complications.
It’s typically not painful when you receive electrocauterization from a healthcare provider. You receive medications to numb the area or put you to sleep before the procedure.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Electrocauterization is a method of using electricity to apply heat to tissue. It has many uses. For example, electrocautery can stop bleeding from small blood vessels and safely remove abnormal growths. Treatment areas are often small and heal with time. Follow all care instructions to keep your recovery moving forward.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/15/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.