In the case of a positive sentinel lymph node (SLN), melanoma patients are recommended to proceed to complete lymph node dissection (CLND). However, CLND for SLN-positive patients – especially with minimal tumor burden in SLN – is becoming more controversial. We analyzed the clinical course of 305 SLN-positive patients with a mean follow-up of 51.1 months by Kaplan–Meier analyses. Overall, 58/305 (17%) patients did not undergo CLND. These were compared with a matched selection of 58 comparable patients who underwent CLND. Moreover, 106/305 patients with minimal tumor burden in SLN (<0.1 mm diameter of the largest tumor deposit) were analyzed separately. Of these 106 patients, 34 did not undergo CLND, whereas 72/106 patients were treated by CLND. In the matched groups, the CLND group and the non-CLND group did not differ significantly with respect to clinical characteristics, characteristics of the primary melanoma, and histopathological parameters of SLN. There were no differences in recurrence-free survival (P=0.765) and overall survival (P=0.844). The total number of regional lymph node metastases and time to regional lymph node metastases were not significantly higher for non-CLND patients. The subgroup of patients with minimal tumor burden in SLN also did not benefit significantly from CLND. In our analyses from a single German center, we could not find any evidence for a therapeutic survival benefit for CLND after positive SLN. However, future prospective randomized trials should confirm these data.