Ask Difference

Incision vs. Excision — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 7, 2023
An incision is a cut made into the body by a surgeon, whereas an excision involves cutting out or removing tissue.
Incision vs. Excision — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Incision and Excision


Key Differences

An incision is a surgical technique involving a precise cut or slice into the body or an organ, usually made with a sharp instrument like a scalpel. Surgeons perform incisions to gain access to internal areas during procedures. On the other hand, excision refers to the complete removal of tissue, organs, or tumors from the body. While an incision is just the initial entry point for a surgery, an excision is often the goal of the procedure, aiming to remove something unwanted or harmful from the body.
The purpose of an incision is to create an opening that allows surgeons to operate within the body. It is a deliberate and controlled action that is typically closed up after the surgery is completed. Excision, however, is a process of taking something out from the body, which could range from a small mole to a significant organ. An incision is the starting point of many surgical procedures, whereas excision is often the culmination of the surgical act.
When comparing the two terms, incisions are superficial and often temporary, whereas excisions are deeper and permanent. Every excision will begin with an incision, but not all incisions will lead to an excision. Incisions are meant to be repaired and healed, while excisions are intended to be definitive removals of tissue, leaving a space that might need to be filled or closed with sutures.
In practice, incisions and excisions are fundamental concepts in surgical procedures. An incision is planned and measured, targeting the least invasive cut to achieve the surgical goal. Excisions require careful planning to ensure that all of the targeted tissue is removed. Incisions may vary in size, but excisions are defined by the removal of tissue, regardless of the incision size required to do so.
While both incisions and excisions are vital to surgery, their implications and outcomes differ significantly. An incision is associated with the entry for surgical intervention, and an excision is associated with the removal of an unwanted entity. The recovery process may be quick for simple incisions but is usually longer for excisions due to the more significant tissue removal and healing that must occur post-operation.

Comparison Chart


A cut made into the body.
The removal of tissue or an organ.


To access inside the body.
To remove something from the body.


Superficial and temporary.
Deeper and permanent.

Surgical Role

Entry point for a procedure.
Goal of a procedure to remove tissue.

Healing Process

Typically quick to heal.
May require extended healing time.

Compare with Definitions


A precise cut into tissue or skin.
The surgeon made a clean incision along the marked line.


The surgical removal of part or all of a structure.
The biopsy confirmed that the excision of the tumor was successful.


A strategic opening in biological tissue.
The first step was to make an incision below the knee.


An extraction or eradication of a section of text or data.
The editor made a final excision of the last paragraph.


An opening made surgically for access or drainage.
An incision was necessary to drain the abscess.


The process of extracting something by cutting.
The excision of the damaged tissue was necessary to prevent further infection.


A deliberate cut into a surface for technical purposes.
The engineer’s design called for a small incision in the metal frame.


The act of cutting something out.
The dermatologist recommended the excision of the mole for further examination.


The act of incising.


To remove by or as if by cutting
Excised the tumor.
Excised two scenes from the film.


A cut into a body tissue or organ, especially one made during surgery.


The removal of some text during editing.


The scar resulting from such a cut.


(surgery) The removal of something (a tumor or body part) by cutting.


A notch, as in the edge of a leaf.


(genetics) The removal of a gene from a section of genetic material.


The condition or quality of being incisive; incisiveness.


(topology) The fact that, under certain hypotheses, the homology of a space relative to a subspace is unchanged by the identification of a subspace of the latter to a point.


A cut, especially one made by a scalpel or similar medical tool in the context of surgical operation; the scar resulting from such a cut.


The act of excising or cutting out or off; extirpation; destruction.
Such conquerors are the instruments of vengeance on those nations that have . . . grown ripe for excision.


The act of cutting into a substance.


The act of cutting off from the church; excommunication.


(obsolete) Separation or solution of viscid matter by medicines.


The removal, especially of small parts, with a cutting instrument.


(football) A cut-back


The omission that is made when an editorial change shortens a written passage;
An editor's deletions frequently upset young authors
Both parties agreed on the excision of the proposed clause


The act of incising, or cutting into a substance;


Surgical removal of a body part or tissue


That which is produced by incising; the separation of the parts of any substance made by a cutting or pointed instrument; a cut; a gash;


The act of banishing a member of the Church from the communion of believers and the privileges of the Church; cutting a person off from a religious society


Separation or solution of viscid matter by medicines.


The act of pulling up or out; uprooting; cutting off from existence


A depression scratched or carved into a surface


The elimination of unwanted parts.
Excision of the decaying branches helped the tree to recover.


The cutting of or into body tissues or organs (especially by a surgeon as part of an operation)


A slit into a surface or material.
The artist made a fine incision in the copper plate for his etching.

Common Curiosities

Is excision always part of a surgery?

Yes, excision refers to the surgical act of removing something from the body.

Can an incision lead to an excision?

Yes, an incision is often the first step in the surgical process that may lead to an excision.

What is an excision?

An excision is the surgical removal of tissue, an organ, or other body parts.

Are incisions only made on skin?

No, incisions can be made on skin or any other tissue needing surgical access.

What's the difference between a biopsy and an excision?

A biopsy is the removal of a small tissue sample; an excision often involves removing larger or entire areas.

Can incisions be painless?

With anesthesia, incisions can be made without pain during surgery.

What is an incision?

An incision is a surgical cut made into tissue or skin.

Can incisions be non-surgical?

Incisions typically refer to surgical contexts but can be used in other precision cutting actions.

Do all surgeries involve excision?

Not all surgeries involve excision; some may only require an incision for exploration or repair.

How long does it take for an incision to heal?

Healing time for an incision varies based on size, location, and individual health.

What are the risks of excision?

Excision can involve risks like bleeding, infection, and impacts on nearby structures.

Can incisions be planned prior to surgery?

Yes, surgeons carefully plan incisions to minimize size and maximize effectiveness.

Does excision always require stitches?

Most excisions require stitches to close the resulting wound.

What determines the extent of an excision?

The extent of an excision is determined by the reason for removal, such as the size of a tumor.

Are there non-surgical forms of excision?

The term excision is typically reserved for surgical contexts.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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