When the Mohs procedure is complete, your Mohs surgeon will discuss with you the best options for repair of the surgical wound, based on achieving the best cosmetic results for you.
Options for healing
Typically, recovery is fairly quick, but will depend on the location and size of the cancer, the resulting defect, the suturing method, and whether reconstructive surgery is necessary. It can take up to a year to see the final cosmetic result. Proper wound care is essential to a good result.
What you can expect
Immediate wound care instructions will be given to each patient, with the goal of minimizing scarring, and protecting the wound from infection.
- Generally, for the first 24 hours the wound will be covered with a pressure bandage to reduce bleeding
- There will be swelling and redness around the wound in the days after surgery, and maybe some bruising. Swelling can be reduced with application of a cold pack during the first 24 hours after surgery. Depending on the size and location of the surgical wound, it can take 4-6 months for the redness to fade
- Cleaning of the wound is important. Patients will receive instruction on proper cleaning procedures. Keeping the wound moist with antibiotic ointment and a bandage help reduce scarring
- It is important to watch for signs of infection. Any cloudy drainage is suspect. When there is redness that extends past the immediate area of the wound, enlarged lymph glands, fever, and pain that gets worse, call your doctor ASAP
- Patients should avoid lifting heavy objects and vigorous physical activity until the sutures are removed, to allow for wound healing to begin, especially when the surgery is on the body, or arms and legs
- Any repair above the eyebrows will cause a black eye
- Sutures are removed in 7 days.
- Patients may be prescribed advanced wound healing materials to promote healing and reduce scarring
- Steps to minimize scarring include avoiding sun exposure, and covering the wound with a silicone dressing will keep it moist and reduce the risk of thickened scars
- Scar improvement occurs over time. The scar will settle and mature and fade over 3-12 months
Reconstruction After Mohs
The aim of Mohs surgery is to eliminate all the cancerous tissue, retain the most amount of healthy tissue and produce the smallest scar possible. Reconstruction is repair of the wound caused by removal of the malignant tumor. Reconstruction may be necessary when the wound is large. It can be done by the Mohs surgeon or a plastic surgeon.
Most reconstruction can occur the same day as the Mohs surgery, however, when the repair is to be completed by a plastic surgeon it may be scheduled for another day.
When you consult a Mohs surgeon at Advantage Dermatology you will discuss the potential for reconstructive surgery, and options. But, there is no way to know whether you might need a graft or flap of skin to cover the wound until the tumor is removed. When the cancer has been removed, you and your Advantage Dermatology Mohs Surgeon will discuss your options on how to repair the wound to achieve optimal cosmetic results.
The wound may be stitched together with sutures or application of a skin graft. Mohs surgeons are trained in reconstructive plastic surgery as well as Mohs surgery. In the event of a graft, correct post-reconstruction care is essential to the viability of the graft.
In sunny Jacksonville, Florida, Advantage Dermatology offers the best patient care available. Our surgical services include Mohs Surgery and reconstructive treatments. We do everything possible to minimize scarring and let you get back to the life you love.