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Reconstruction and After Surgery

Reconstruction

After the skin cancer has been completely removed, a decision is made on the best method for closing the wound created by the surgery. These methods include letting the wound heal by itself, closing the wound side-to-side with stitches, or closing the wound with a skin graft or flap. We individualize your treatment to achieve the best results. When the reconstruction is completed by other surgical specialties, that reconstruction will take place on the next day or two. There is no harm in delaying the reconstruction for several days. 

After Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Your surgical wound will likely require care during the week following surgery and prior to removal of stitches. Detailed written instructions will be provided. You should plan on avoiding strenuous activity for a week. Please plan to stay in the area during this week after the surgery to ensure proper evaluation if any problems result. Most of our patients report minimal pain which responds readily to Tylenol. An ice pack over the bandage may also help with pain and swelling. Bruising (“black and blue”) and swelling may develop especially around the eyes, cheeks and neck and will resolve during the healing phase. You may experience a sensation of tightness across the area of surgery. Skin cancers frequently involve nerves and months may pass before your skin sensation returns to normal. In rare instances, the numbness may be permanent. You may also experience itching after your wound has healed. Complete healing of the surgical scar takes place over 12 – 18 months. Especially during the first few months, the scar site may feel “thick, swollen, or lumpy” and there may be some redness. This redness is due to increased size and number of blood vessels in the area of surgery. The redness usually fades after several months; however, rarely these blood vessels can be permanent. Gentle massage of the area (starting about 1 month after the surgery) will speed the healing process.

An indefinite follow-up period of observation is necessary after the wound has healed in order to monitor the healing process and also to closely follow if the cancer recurs. Also, studies have shown that once you develop a skin cancer, there is a strong possibility of developing other skin cancers in the future. Should you notice any suspicious areas, it is best to check with your physician for an examination. You will be reminded to return to your dermatologist or family doctor on a frequent basis for continued surveillance of your skin.