Patient Care Instructions

Pre-Operation Instructions

Preparation for Surgery

We want you to be as comfortable, relaxed, and informed as possible. Therefore, we recommend you do the following:

  • Read the handouts you have been given
  • Ask any questions you may have
  • Take your usual medications unless directed otherwise
  • Take any new medications prescribed for you
  • Do not drink any alcoholic beverages 24 hours prior to surgery
  • Continue to refrain from alcoholic beverages for 48 hours following the procedure
  • Shampoo your hair the night before surgery. Your wound and initial dressing have to remain dry for at least 24 hours after surgery
  • Be well rested by getting a good night's sleep
  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid any "pullover" clothing
  • Plan on spending 2 to 3 hours in our office for the procedure. However, the actual duration varies depending on the size and location of the skin cancer and the type of reconstruction
  • Consider bringing someone to drive you home
  • Because we have limited space in our waiting room, please bring only one person

Please advise us as soon as possible if you must cancel or change your
appointment so we may accommodate another patient

Post-Operation Instructions

It is likely your surgical wound will require care during the week(s) following surgery. We will provide you with detailed written instructions after your surgery. You should plan on wearing a dressing and avoid strenuous physical activity for 1-2 weeks after the surgery.

During the preoperative visit, you and your doctor will have discussed reconstruction options. However, the actual method is determined only after the skin cancer has been completely removed and the extent of the final defect is known.

Options for wound management include:

  • Letting the wound heal by itself
  • Closing the wound in a side-by-side fashion with stitches
  • Closing the wound with a skin graft or a flap

We usually complete your reconstruction on the same day. On occasion, other surgical specialists may perform the procedure because a tumor may be larger than anticipated. If you require a specialist, we will introduce you to one before our reconstructive surgery.

When the reconstruction is completed by other surgical specialists, it may take place on the same day or a subsequent day. No harm comes from delaying the reconstruction. Extensive reconstruction may require hospitalization.

Complete healing of the surgical site takes place over 12-18 months. The site may feel swollen or lumpy, especially during the first few months. Some redness may occur. Gently massaging the area and keeping it lubricated with lotion starting about one month after surgery will speed the healing process. You may have minimal pain that you can alleviate with Tylenol. You may also experience temporary tightness and itching across the surgical area as your wound heals. Significant blood loss is rare, but bleeding may occur after surgery. Bleeding into a sutured wound may impair good healing. If you experience bleeding, call us for instructions about treating the wound appropriately.

After the wound has healed, an indefinite follow-up period of observation is necessary. We will ask you to make follow-up appointments after two months, six months, one year, and at least annually thereafter. Once you develop a skin cancer, there is a possibility that you will develop other skin cancers in different locations in the years ahead. Should you notice any suspicious areas, such as areas that spontaneously bleed and do not heal after 2 to 3 weeks, check with your physician for a complete evaluation.

If you use adequate protection, sunshine is not harmful to you. Approximately 15-30 minutes before sun exposure, liberally apply a broad spectrum sun screen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to all exposed areas. Since many sunscreens wash off with water or perspiration, reapply after swimming or exercising. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and utilize clothing for further protection from the sun.

Remember, sun exposure is most intense between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.