What happens after the skin cancer is removed?
Once the skin cancer has been completely removed, we will decide how best to manage the wound that has been created by surgery. This depends on the size and location of the wound.
In many cases, the wound can be simply closed by suturing the edges together, resulting in a linear scar. If the wound is too large to do this, tissue from the surrounding area can be rearranged in order to close the wound. This is called a skin flap, and results in a non-linear scar. Skin grafts, or tissue “borrowed” from other areas, are also used to close wounds that cannot be managed in a simpler fashion. Occasionally, the site will be left to heal by itself, a process known as “healing by granulation”. If the wound is left to heal in this manner, daily bandage changes will be needed for approximately four to eight weeks. After the procedure, you will be given detailed written wound care instructions. The sutures will need to be removed in an about one week.
What can I expect after surgery?
You will leave our office with a bulky bandage on the surgical site. The rest of the day should be spent quietly at home. It is normal to feel some discomfort after surgery, although some patients have none. Tylenol, two tablets taken every four hours should be taken for pain. Swelling will occur around the surgical site, and this will begin to subside in several days. If the surgery is around the eyes, a “black eye” may occur. You will need to keep the surgical site dry for at least 48 hours. The sutures will usually be removed in one week, so you should plan to be in town for the entire week following surgery.
How can I improve my scar?
The single most important factor in optimizing the cosmetic appearance is complete cancer removal. If a skin cancer recurs after treatment, a larger scar results. Mohs surgery affords the highest possible cure rate, while removing the least amount of healthy tissue.
Once the cancer has been removed, the reconstruction of the wound is important in determining the final cosmetic appearance. Dr. Van Tuyl has performed many of these procedures and will be happy to show you before and after pictures with excellent cosmetic results.