Have you recently been diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and told you will need Mohs surgery? The good news is that your chances of eradicating the cancer with this procedure are extremely high. Even better, this surgery is a minimally invasive procedure. It’s done on an outpatient basis and generally only involves the use of a local anesthetic to help you remain comfortable. Still, appropriate preparation and after care can make a difference in the outcome of your procedure. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Come Prepared on the Day of Surgery
Shower and shampoo before surgery since you’ll need to keep the treated area dry for the first day or two after the procedure. You may be given special antibacterial wash to make sure your skin is super-clean. Use that as directed. Dress in comfortable clothing that don’t need to be pulled on or off over your head. Don’t put on any makeup if the melanoma is being removed from your face. Bring food and entertainment. This surgery is done layer by layer in stages to ensure that all the cancerous tissue is removed. This means it can take several hours as each layer is inspected by a pathologist for abnormal cells. You don’t want to get bored or hungry while you wait.
Don’t Get Carried Away with Pain Management
Most melanoma skin cancer shows up on the face (since that’s the area that gets the most UV exposure). There are a lot of nerve endings in facial skin. Plus, this area has a lot of different muscles and the skin tends to be highly mobile. This can create a certain amount of discomfort after surgery. You might be tempted to take over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin prior to surgery to help you cope. That’s not a good idea since these drugs can interfere with normal blood clotting. Always talk to your dermatological surgeon and your primary care physician about any medications to take or avoid before skin surgery. Pain after Mohs surgery can usually be managed successfully with extra strength Tylenol.
Use RICE for Post-Op Care
Most patients are feeling well enough to be back at work within a day of this procedure. However, it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself to a little downtime to jumpstart your healing process. A combination of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) works well to deal with the most common post-operative effects of Mohs surgery. Take it easy for about 24 hours after your procedure. Rest with your head elevated and use an ice pack to limit swelling. If you have mild bleeding, apply pressure to make it stop. Soon, you should be back to normal!