In the previous article, we looked at what skin cancer removal is and what the most important terms associated with it. In this article, we will look at the procedural steps and the recovery process.

What are the main steps in the procedure for skin cancer removal?

The procedure that will be adopted for skin cancer removal are majorly dependent on the type of lesion or growth, its size and also its location. A surgeon will be able to decide on the approach only after a thorough examination. However, in most cases, the following set of steps will be followed:

  • Administering anaesthesia – Many a times, medications, either in the form of general anaesthesia or sedation is required to soothe the mind and body. This will ensure that you feel minimal discomfort during the procedure.
  • Removal of the growth or lesion – The method used to remove the growth or the lesion, will be completely dependent on the size and the location of the same. If the lesion is small in size, then a simple excision process will be more than enough. However, in many cases, the cancer might be like an iceberg – a small part might be visible on the surface, but the expanse underneath might be massive. If this is the case, then a more advanced version of surgery might be required. Many a times, the surgeon will remove a small portion and have it checked pathologically. If there is no other cancerous growth beneath the surface, then you would be considered safe. The same process would be used to determine if there is more growth underneath the epidermis and then the next step would be to clear the same. The intention is to have a clear margin and ensuring that there is no more cancer in a certain area. Once the surgeon has determined that there are no more cancerous cells present, he or she will be able to move onto the next step, which is reconstructing the wound site to make it look as normal as possible.
  • Reconstruction of the wound site – Depending on the size of a skin cancer growth or lesion, there could be the requirement to reconstruct the site, so that it looks as close to normal as possible. When the lesion or region of the cancerous growth is very large, post removal, the wound site will obviously be large too. In such situations, a surgeon will be able to reconstruct the wound site, allowing you to return to normalcy. Procedures such as skin grafts and local flaps will be used to recreate the wound site, so that it looks as close to normal as humanly possible. In the local flap method, the skin near the wound site, which is healthy is pulled over the wound and is sutured with great care. The skin graft is normally used, when the wound site is large, because a piece of healthy skin will be harvested from another part of the body and carefully placed over the wound site.

Once the wound has been reconstructed, it is normally covered with bandage and will take some to heal. However, within a few weeks, you should observe that the wound site is returning to normalcy.

How much will the procedure cost?

The cost of the skin cancer removal procedure will be dependent on several factors, including:

  • How large the area of the growth or lesion is
  • How far spread the cancer is
  • How experienced your surgeon is
  • The support staff being used by the surgeon
  • What kind of excision and reconstruction methods are being used
  • Costs associated with the medication, including anaesthesia and bandages etc.
  • Medical tests and evaluations

In most cases, skin cancer removal is covered by the insurance policy, however, it would be wise to cross check the same beforehand.

What is the recovery process post skin cancer removal?

At the end of the day, skin cancer removal is a surgical process and the recovery process will take time. Initially, you will notice soreness or redness around the surgical site, but this is natural and will recede over time. However, it will be your responsibility to take care of your surgical site, making sure that you stick to the instructions, given by your surgeon.

  • You will be asked to clean the surgical site with care on a regular basis and apply ointments or other topical medications.
  • You should be able to return to your normal routine in a few weeks’ time, but you will have to ensure that initially, you keep the activities light and not pick any heavy loads or work out aggressively.
  • It will be up to you to ensure that you not do anything that will exert the wound site or stress out the sutures.

What kind of results can be expected?

The results are actually dependent on several factors, including the extent of your cancer and the experience of your surgeon. While some forms of cancer can be handled surgically, there are several versions which will require radiation or chemotherapy.

It is a surgical procedure, which means that there are bound to be scars and visible marks; however, in the hands of a skilled surgeon, things should be good. They will try to hide the suture lines within the natural folds and lines of the body. Incision sites will have scars, but they will lighten over time.

It is extremely important to remember what the surgeon tells you to do, including avoiding abrasion and injuries to the surgical site.

What could go wrong with skin cancer removal procedures?

As is the case with any type of surgical procedure, there is always the chance of risks and complications. With skin cancer removal, it would include:

  • Infections
  • Allergies to the medical material or even the medications being used
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Improper healing
  • Damage to the nerves or blood vessels

It is important that you choose your surgeon with care and have sufficient knowledge about the procedure, before actually going forth with it.


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