Common Questions Answered by Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Bish Soliman
Skin cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer, can be a daunting diagnosis, but understanding the steps involved in its treatment can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty. This blog is designed to provide valuable insights and answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the entire process, from preparation for skin cancer excision surgery to recovery and beyond.
In this blog, Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Bish Soliman will discuss various aspects of skin cancer excision—a surgical procedure commonly employed to remove cancerous tissues from the skin.
FAQs for Skin Cancer Excision – Procedure Details
What exactly is skin cancer excision?
- Skin cancer excision is a surgical procedure used to remove skin cancer from the body. The goal is to completely remove the cancerous tissue while minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This procedure is typically used for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and in some cases, melanoma.
How is skin cancer excision performed?
- The procedure usually involves numbing the area around the skin cancer with a local anaesthetic. Dr Bish Soliman then uses a scalpel to cut out the cancerous tissue along with a surrounding margin of healthy skin. The size of the margin depends on the type, size, and location of the skin cancer. The excised tissue is then sent to a laboratory for analysis to ensure all cancerous cells have been removed.
What types of anaesthesia are used during the procedure?
- Most skin cancer excisions are performed using local anaesthesia, which numbs only the area of the skin where the surgery is performed. In some cases, especially for larger or more complicated excisions, Dr Soliman might recommend sedation or general anaesthesia, where you’ll be asleep during the procedure.
How long does the procedure take?
- The duration of the procedure depends on the size and location of the skin cancer. Small, simple excisions can take as little as 30 minutes, while more complex cases, especially those requiring skin grafts or extensive reconstruction, can take an hour or more.
Will there be a scar after the surgery?
- Scarring is an inevitable part of the healing process post-surgery. The size and appearance of the scar depend on various factors such as the size and depth of the excision, the location on the body, and individual healing characteristics. Dr Soliman will aim to minimise the scar’s visibility, and there are several post-surgical treatments available to help reduce scarring.
FAQs for Skin Cancer Excision- Preparation for Surgery
How should I prepare for skin cancer excision surgery?
- It’s important to follow Dr Soliman’s specific instructions, which may include fasting for a certain number of hours before the surgery, adjusting current medications, and avoiding certain substances like alcohol or specific vitamins and supplements that might affect bleeding or anaesthesia.
Are there any medications I should avoid before the procedure?
- Yes, you may be advised to stop taking certain medications that can increase bleeding risk, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and certain herbal supplements. Always discuss your current medications with your plastic surgeon well before the surgery.
Can I eat or drink before my surgery?
- This depends on whether the procedure is being done under local or general anaesthesia. For local anaesthetic procedures it is not necessary to fast. If the excision is being done under general then you will need to fast (not eat or drink) for a specific period, usually from midnight the night before your surgery. Your surgical team will provide specific instructions.
Should I arrange for someone to drive me home after the procedure?
- Yes, it’s essential to arrange for a responsible adult to drive you home after the procedure, especially if you’ll be receiving sedation or general anaesthesia, as these can impair your ability to drive safely.
What should I wear on the day of the surgery?
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Ideally, the clothing should be easy to remove and not rub against the surgical site. Also, avoid wearing jewellery, makeup, or nail polish to the procedure.
Is there any special skincare I need to do before the surgery?
- You should clean the surgical area with mild soap and water the morning of the procedure, unless otherwise directed by Dr Soliman. Avoid applying lotions, creams, or perfumes to the area to be operated on.
What should I bring with me to the hospital or clinic?
- Bring essential items like your identification, insurance information, and a list of any medications you’re taking. It’s also a good idea to bring a book or magazine to read while you wait, and a small bag with personal items in case you need to stay longer than anticipated.
FAQs about Skin Cancer Excision Recovery and Aftercare
What can I expect immediately after the surgery?
- Right after the surgery, you’ll likely experience some redness, swelling, and discomfort at the surgical site. These are normal post-operative symptoms and should gradually improve over the next few days. Dr Soliman may provide specific instructions for wound care and pain management.
How should I care for the wound after the surgery?
- You’ll be given detailed instructions on how to care for your surgical wound. This includes keeping the area clean and dry, changing dressings as instructed, and possibly applying topical medications. Avoiding soaking the wound is also important, so you may need to modify how you bathe.
Will I need pain medication?
- Pain following skin cancer excision is generally mild and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. In some cases, Dr Soliman may prescribe stronger pain medication.
How long does the recovery process take?
- Recovery time varies depending on the size and location of the excision, but most patients can resume normal activities within a few days. Complete healing of the wound may take several weeks to a few months.
Are there any activities I should avoid during recovery?
- You should avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and stretching or pulling of the skin near the surgical site until it is fully healed. Dr Bish Soliman will advise you on when it’s safe to resume all normal activities.
How can I minimise scarring?
- Proper wound care is crucial for minimising scarring. After the wound has healed, you can use silicone gel sheets or scar creams as recommended by your plastic surgeon. Protecting the scar from sun exposure is also important to prevent darkening of the scar.
What signs of infection should I watch for?
- Signs of infection include increased redness, swelling, warmth, or pain at the site, as well as pus or unusual discharge. If you have a fever or experience any of these symptoms, contact your medical team immediately.
When should I follow up with my plastic surgeon?
- Your plastic surgeon will schedule a follow-up appointment to check on your healing progress, typically a few weeks after the surgery. If you have any concerns before this appointment, don’t hesitate to contact your medical team.
FAQs about Skin Cancer Excision Risks and Complications
What are the common risks associated with skin cancer excision?
- Like any surgical procedure, skin cancer excision carries some risks, such as bleeding, infection, and an adverse reaction to anaesthesia. These are generally rare and can be effectively managed when promptly addressed.
Could there be complications related to the wound healing?
- Yes, complications such as delayed healing, wound dehiscence (reopening of the wound), and infection can occur.
Is there a risk of scarring after the procedure?
- Scarring is a natural part of the healing process, and some level of scarring should be expected. The extent and appearance of scarring depend on the excision size, your skin type, and how well you follow post-operative care instructions.
What is the likelihood of cancer recurrence after excision?
- The risk of recurrence depends on the type of skin cancer, its stage, and how thoroughly it was removed. Regular follow-up appointments are crucial for early detection of any recurrence.
Can there be nerve damage during the procedure?
- There’s a small risk of nerve damage, especially in excisions near sensitive areas. This could result in numbness or changes in sensation, which are usually temporary but can be permanent in rare cases.
Are there any long-term complications I should be aware of?
- Most people do not experience long-term complications. However, in rare cases, there can be persistent pain, extensive scarring, or functional impairment, depending on the excision’s location and size.
How can I reduce my risk of complications?
- Follow Dr Soliman’s pre- and post-operative instructions closely, maintain good hygiene, avoid activities that may strain the surgical site, and attend all follow-up appointments.
What should I do if I suspect a complication?
- If you notice any signs of infection, excessive bleeding, or any other unusual symptoms, contact your medical team immediately. It’s better to address potential complications early to prevent them from worsening.
FAQs about Skin Cancer Excision Results
What can I expect in terms of results from the skin cancer excision?
- The primary goal is to completely remove the skin cancer. Most patients achieve clear margins, meaning no cancer cells at the edge of the removed tissue. The success rate is generally high, but regular follow-up is crucial to monitor for any recurrence.
How will my skin look after the surgery?
- Immediately after surgery, the area will be red and swollen. Over time, a scar will form. The appearance of the scar depends on the size and depth of the excision, your body’s healing process, and the care taken during and after the procedure.
Is there a chance the cancer could come back after the excision?
- There’s always a slight risk of recurrence, which is why regular skin checks and follow-up appointments are important. The risk varies based on the type of skin cancer and how completely it was removed.
What follow-up care is necessary after skin cancer excision?
- Follow-up care typically includes regular skin examinations and possibly additional imaging tests, to monitor for any signs of recurrence and to check for new skin cancers.
Will I need additional treatments after the excision?
- If the pathology report indicates that cancer cells were present at the margins of the excised tissue, you may need further treatment, which could include additional surgery or other therapies like radiation.
How long will it take for the surgical area to heal completely?
- Healing times vary based on the individual and the size and location of the excision. Generally, initial wound healing can take a few weeks, while complete scar maturation may take several months to a year.
Can anything be done to improve the appearance of the scar?
- Yes, several options can help improve the appearance of scars, including silicone gel sheets, steroid injections, laser therapy, and, in some cases, surgical revision.
How can I reduce the risk of developing more skin cancers in the future?
- Preventive measures include regular skin examinations, using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, avoiding peak sun exposure, and avoiding tanning beds. Also, maintain a healthy lifestyle and discuss any specific preventive measures with your GP.
Further Reading about Surgery with Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Bish Soliman
- Read Dr Bish Soliman’s Recovery after Plastic Surgery Page
- Read Dr Bish Soliman’s Skin Cancer Surgery Page
- Read Dr Bish Soliman’s Risks and Complications of Plastic Surgery Page
- Read Dr Bish Soliman’s Smoking and Plastic Surgery Page
- Read Dr Bish Soliman’s Facial Reconstruction Surgery Page
- Read Dr Soliman’s Blog about Recovery after Skin Cancer Excision
Medical References about Skin Cancer Excision
- Surgery for Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers – American Cancer Society
- Skin Cancer Removal Procedure Steps – American Society of Plastic Surgeons
- Who Should Carry Out Skin Cancer Excisions?
- Skin Cancer Surgery: Procedures, Side Effects & More
- Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer