What to Expect After Your Skin Cancer Surgery
After you have had surgery for your skin cancer, what you can expect during convalesce depends on factors such as the type of surgery you underwent and the specific aftercare instructions you receive from your doctor. However, it is possible to discuss a range of outcomes which may or may not end up applying to your own experience.
One aspect of the healing process to pay attention to is exposure of the scar tissue to sunlight. In the days immediately following the surgery, it is advisable to avoid much sun exposure to the scar tissue, especially in the hours surrounding noon when the sun is at its highest. The reason for this is that sunlight may cause scar tissue to develop discoloration.
After the surgery, most are advised to go home and relax for at least a day before returning to a normal activity like work. Depending on how your surgery went, this period of advised inactivity can last for weeks or longer. If any fever or other troubling symptoms last for longer than a few days post surgery, contact your doctor.
It is not advisable to apply makeup directly to the operated-on area of the skin until it is healed. Follow instructions for dressing the wound and remember to change the dressings regularly to prevent infection.
If the removed portion of your skin is around the mouth, there is a two day period where it would be better to avoid hot food and drink, and not to eat things that require a great deal of chewing.
Right after the surgery, the wound may bleed or have a clear discharge. A larger dressing can be used in this short term to manage that. Your doctor may have you apply petroleum jelly or an ice pack.
Stitches that you received may need to stay in for two weeks but could be removed in less than a week. Pain medication usually isn’t necessary for convalescence, but be advised that anything containing aspirin may increase bleeding.
The Importance of Follow-Up Care
Follow-up care is an important part of your recovery. You may be referred back to your regular doctor, or your follow-ups may be with a specialist such as SunDoctors If you change doctors at any time during the process, be sure to discuss a summary of your illness and treatment to ensure that you and your medical professionals are on the same page.
Monitoring for recurrence of skin cancer is an important goal of aftercare. Cancer cells can remain undetected in your body even after the surgery. Over time, they may form back into cancer. This can take as long as 10 years. Regular observation is necessary so that if this were to happen, you can get treated as soon as possible.
Another goal of aftercare is to manage any side effects of the surgery which may manifest. These may include pain or itch in the area of the removed skin or around it. Ability to move the skin may be reduced. In cases where it was necessary to remove a large amount of skin, reconstructive surgery may be called for.
One factor that plays a large role in your comfort and health while you recover is the quality of the relationship you have with your medical team. An important part of building a good relationship is selecting doctors that have a great deal of experience dealing with skin cancer.
Also, make sure to think before each visit what questions you have to ask your doctor so that you won’t forget to get the information you need.