If you've been diagnosed with skin cancer, the good news is this is one of the most curable cancers out there. However, like many other cancers, you need to act as quickly as possible and treat the cancer before it metastasizes. One of the best treatments for skin cancers is Mohs surgery. An article from the ASCO Post says that Mohs surgery has a 99% success rate and is a cost-effective option.
During this surgery, your dermatologist will progressively slice away thin layers of tissue and examine them under a microscope. Your dermatologist will repeat the process until the skin cancer is no longer visible. While Mohs surgery isn't as invasive as other surgeries, you do need to be diligent during your recovery.
Make Sure You Follow Your Dermatologist's Instructions
If your doctor hasn't already given you an instruction sheet for pre- and post-operative care, ask him or her for one. On these instructions, your doctor may want you to stop taking certain medications, like over-the-counter painkillers that could thin the blood. NSAIDs could cause your wound to bleed too much after surgery. Your doctor may not only want you to stop taking them before surgery but a little bit afterwards as well. Make sure you follow your dermatologist's instructions on things like
- Which pain medications you can take
- How to clean your wound and change bandages
- When you need to come back for a follow-up/stitches removal
- When you can return to everyday activity and exercise
Keep Your Bandage on for the First 24 Hours
It may be tempting to take your bandage right off after surgery, especially if your wound is itchy or swollen. However, it's important for the bandage to stay on for a day before you take it off, since this will prevent infection and bleeding.
When your dermatologist does give you the go ahead to take your bandage off, you may not be able to immerse the wound. Your doctor will show you how to clean it with mild soap and water. Dry, scabby wounds don't heal as well, so your doctor may recommend that you use an ointment—like Aquaphor—to keep the wound moisturized when you change your bandages.
Closely Monitor Your Wound For the First Few Days
It is quite normal to have some swelling, redness, and a little bleeding after your surgery. You can ease these symptoms by icing the area after surgery. Ideally, these symptoms should subside in the coming days, although you may have redness in the surgical area for months. What you really need to keep an eye on is if the wound gets infected. Some signs of infection include
- Pus or drainage around the wound that is yellow or green instead of clear
- A high fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Red splotches on your skin that have spread further than the surgical site
- Discomfort or pain that does not get better
Contact your dermatologist if you experience any of these symptoms. You want to make sure that your mohs surgery is successful and that your wound will heal correctly.