Fifty well-defined basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) on the face, outside the central T, were studied to establish change in size between initial assessment and surgery. The major and minor diameters were measured at presentation and when the patients attended for elective excision 21–155 days later (mean 70). The median change in major diameter was an increase of 0·5 mm (range − 3 to + 4, P < 0·05). The median change in area was 4·71 mm2 (range − 54 to + 64, P < 0·05). Although there is a statistically significant increase in major diameter and area, it was small in clinical terms. The major axis increased by > 1 mm in 8% of cases. In no case was treatment or completeness of excision compromised by waiting. A mean delay of 10 weeks between review and surgery does not appear to compromise the outcome of treatment of BCC in patients with well-defined BCCs of the face outside the central T.