Please observe the following guidelines to help your surgical wounds and biopsies heal quickly, successfully and with less scarring:
- If at all possible, do not remove bandage for the first 24 hours after surgery. Your bandage will keep your wound clean, moist, and will help prevent bleeding.
- After 24 hours, gently take off the pressure bandage. If the wound is covered with a brown tape, leave the area alone until suture removal. If the area is not covered with a brown tape, clean the area with a mild soap and water. Do not spray water directly into the wound. Rather, gently run water over the wound to rinse off soap. Pat the area dry. Apply a film of ointment (Vaseline or AquaPhor Healing Ointment) and re-bandage the area. Repeat every 24 hours until you return for removal of the sutures.
- Please do NOT immerse the wound under water (bath, hot tub, swimming pool, etc.) until one week after sutures are removed.
- Please keep movement of the surgical site to a minimum for the first three weeks after surgery. Wounds only have approximately 5% of their strength one week after surgery and so care must be taken not to stretch open the surgical site. Avoid stretching or overusing the surgical area for three weeks and then slowly start to increase activity to the affected area.
- Occasionally wounds bleed. Almost all the time, this bleeding can be stopped by applying pressure to the area for 10 minutes. No peeking!!! After you have been applying pressure for 10 minutes, using a clock to keep time, slowly let up the pressure and see if the wound is still bleeding. If it is, please call the office and the physician will be paged.
- Even though exhaustive efforts are taken to eliminate infections, occasionally wounds do become infected. A little redness around the wound is normal. However, if the skin around the wound becomes increasingly more red, swollen, hot, and painful, you may have an infection. If this occurs, please call the office or go to the Emergency Room.
- Mild discomfort and swelling can be encountered during the healing process. This usually occurs 6-24 hours after surgery. Take Tylenol if needed. If continued discomfort or increased swelling occurs, please call the office or go to the Emergency Room. Patients can ice area for 5 – 10 minutes an hour if needed for pain. Elevation of the wound above the level of the heart for 10 minutes can also reduce swelling and therefor reduce pain.
- You will be given an appointment for suture removal. This is usually a painless process but some mild discomfort can be experienced. Sutures are usually removed in 5-21 days after the procedure.
“It is critically important to have a skin exam every year by a dermatologist for the rest of your life.”
Continued Post Surgery Precautions
- You likely have had surgery for either an atypical mole or a skin cancer. That being the case, you are much more likely to develop another one in the future. Therefore it is critically important to have a skin exam every year by a dermatologist for the rest of your life. It is also very important for you to do monthly skin exams on yourself to find any lesion that is growing, changing, or simply not healing. If you notice a lesion that is growing, changing, or not healing, you must seek treatment by a dermatologist within a couple of weeks.
- Please also practice sun protection measures whenever you are out in the sun, even if you are out for only a few minutes.
Remember that you and your dermatologist are a team and we need your help to keep you healthy.