5 Essential Tips for Mohs Surgery Recovery and Beyond

If you notice a mole or lesion on your skin that seems to be suspicious, it’s important to see a dermatologist, who can make a diagnosis and determine whether the growth is dangerous or even possibly cancerous. Although there are many different options for treating skin cancer, Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate (over 99 percent in studies), and is the best option for cancer that forms on highly visible areas, such as the face. Mohs surgery, provided in both our St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach locations, is the ideal treatment for the most common forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs).

The treatment involves removing the minimal necessary skin in the treatment area, and then mapping and microscopically examining the tissue margins for any remaining cancer cells right away. We repeat this process as needed until there is no sign of any cancerous cells in the skin.  This results in the highest possible cure rate while removing the minimal necessary skin, and leaving the surrounding healthy skin intact and undamaged. 

After all of the skin cancer is removed, patients can choose to either allow the wound to heal on its own—which may be best if it’s small or located in an area that’s easy to conceal—or to have the wound closed with stitches. Our physicians specialize in cosmetic reconstruction following Mohs surgery and will help you to achieve the best possible cosmetic outcome with a minimal or nearly imperceptible scar in most cases.  

Here’s what you can do to have a smoother and faster recovery, either way:

1. It’s normal to experience some swelling and bruising in the treatment area. Patients can manage mild to moderate discomfort by taking over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Stronger prescription pain relief medications may sometimes be needed, and this can be discussed with your doctor.

2. It’s also normal to have slight bleeding post-operatively, but in rare cases you might experience active bleeding. Patients can stop this by using firm pressure with a dry cloth or gauze for around 20 minutes. If the bleeding continues, contact us directly.

3. To give yourself time to heal and avoid complications, don’t engage in heavy physical activity—including bending or working out—for the first week after your surgery.

4. Our team will provide you with detailed wound care instructions. Follow these closely to avoid complications.

5. Be aware of signs of infection, such as redness around the wound and worsening pain. If you notice these signs, contact us right away.

Our experienced and board-certified Mohs surgeons and dermatologists can recommend the most effective treatments for skin cancer or other dermatologic conditions. Learn more about what’s involved in Mohs surgery by contacting us at Nelson DermatologyContact us online or by calling 727-895-8131 to request an appointment.

What Do Pre-Cancerous Skin Growths Look Like?

When you spend too much time in the sun, the exposure can cause short-term consequences—such as burning the outer part of the skin, resulting in a temporary sunburn—but ultraviolet light also gets into the inner layers, resulting in permanent DNA damage and killing skin cells. These changes lead to premature aging, causing the skin to become wrinkled, leathery, dried out, and uneven. It can also increase a person’s risk of skin cancer, including by causing precancerous skin growths to develop. So what exactly are these lesions?

Cumulative, unprotected exposure to sunlight or artificial tanning may eventually lead to the formation of actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses or premalignant lesions. It’s important to monitor your skin for these growths and to have them examined and treated by a professional, because while they aren’t cancer, some types can eventually evolve into skin cancer. Our St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach based Nelson Dermatology team is sharing these tips to help you recognize potential pre-cancerous skin lesions before they have the chance to develop further and become truly dangerous. 

Note that the signs of actinic keratosis can often seem very similar to skin cancer, but the lesions are usually less obvious and may also be confused for age spots. Pre-cancerous growths may vary greatly in size and appearance.

• They’re usually found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as face, lips, ears, forearms, scalp, neck, and the backs of the hands. 

• They typically appear as small, wart-like skin lesions (they’re usually less than an inch in diameter) that have a dry, scaly, or rough and sandpapery texture. Sometimes it’s easier to identify them based on their texture rather than color. 

• They usually have a reddish or pinkish color, but can also vary in hue and may appear as white, tan, flesh-toned, or brownish spots.

• They resemble flat or slightly raised bumps on the surface of the skin.

• Symptoms such as bleeding, burning, itching, and crusting are common.

• There are usually several growths, and they may be located close together on one area of skin.

If you’re concerned about a new or changing spot on your skin, contact us to have it examined. For more advice on identifying pre-cancerous skin growths and skin cancer, contact our team at St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach based Nelson DermatologyContact us by calling 727-895-8131, or book a consultation online to get started.