If you've had skin cancer surgery or are preparing for surgery, this can be a scary time. You may be confused about what happens next, and you fear your future could be uncertain. Here are four things you should do after skin cancer surgery:
1. Prevent complications
With the proper care of your surgical wound, you can prevent complications including bleeding, infection, and excessive pain. Follow the instructions of your doctor and consider these tips:
- Avoid heavy lifting and exercise.
- Keep the area dry to prevent infections. Avoid showers, baths, and swimming pools for a day or two.
- Clean the area twice a day with antiseptic or antibacterial cream. Apply fresh bandages.
- Use an ice pack to minimize swelling.
- If the wound is on your face, avoid hot drinks and food that can aggravate pain.
- Avoid excessive chewing if the wound is on your face.
- Do not apply makeup to the wound.
2. Minimize scars
With any surgery, you should expect a scar. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the scar as much as possible. Here are some tips:
- Do not pick at the wound while it's healing.
- Follow doctor's guidelines to speed healing and prevent infection.
- Do not remove stitches yourself. Allow your doctor to do so.
- Once the wound is healed, over-the-counter or prescription scar creams can be used.
- Injections steroid treatments, laser treatments, or dermabrasion are options if creams don't help.
3. Prevent future skin cancer
If you've had skin cancer you must take steps to prevent a future recurrence. A history of skin cancer makes you more likely to develop future skin cancer. While you may not be able to prevent skin cancer entirely, you can minimize your risk. Here's how to prevent skin cancer:
- Use sunscreen daily with at least SPF 15. Reapply sunscreen hourly if you're at the beach or swimming pool.
- Stay indoors or under shade from 10am until 4 pm.
- Avoid sunbathing and tanning beds.
- Take vitamin D supplements.
- Wear sunglasses, hats, and clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Use makeup or self-tanning cream to give yourself a sun-kissed look.
4. Know the early signs of skin cancer
Preventing skin cancer is only half the battle. You need to be able to detect early signs of cancer so that your dermatologist can treat you before it becomes dangerous. Have your doctor, family member, friend, or spouse assist you in checking your skin once a month. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Raised, red, itchy patch or rash
- Mole that changes color, shape, or texture
- Asymmetric moles or moles with irregular borders
- A sore or pimple that won't go away
These are four ways to take care of yourself and your skin after surgery. Talk to your doctor today for more tips.