What is the recovery time for Mohs surgery?
Recovering from Mohs surgery is usually very easy and uneventful. Overall, resting as much as possible the first few days after surgery is helpful.
Stitches (sutures) are usually removed at one of our Houston, TX area offices anywhere from 4 to 14 days after the date of surgery. Skin cancer surgeon Dr. Joseph Sedrak will let you know what date to return for stitch removal.
Most patients report minimal discomfort after surgery and require minimal or no pain medication.
If there is pain, many patients find that they prefer to take something for pain at the first hint of discomfort instead of waiting until the pain builds up to an unbearable level. If you have mild or moderate pain, Dr. Sedrak may advise you to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or another pain reliever over the counter. Aspirin or aspirin-containing pain relievers may cause increased bleeding. Rarely, prescription pain medications may be required for severe pain.
Dr. Sedrak will let you know what pain medications are recommended for your specific condition.
Most patients are able to return to work or school the next day after Mohs. Avoiding heavy lifting, straining, or strenuous exercise for seven to 21 days may be required depending on the area of surgery. Dr. Sedrak will let you know what activity precautions are required based on the area and size of your procedure.
You may go out in the sun with sunscreen and protective hats and clothing. Excess sun exposure has been linked to skin cancer. Use of sunscreen or other cover-up on the scar is very helpful for at least six months after surgery to help minimize scarring. It is important to follow the instructions provided for wound care and sun protection.
How do I take care of my surgical area after Mohs surgery?
Texas Skin Cancer Center will provide you postoperative wound care instructions. Often, you will be asked to go home and relax for the remainder of the day. A few patients like to return to work and resume their work the day after surgery. It may be advisable to avoid heavy lifting and exercise, especially the first 24-48 hours after surgery.
Dr. Sedrak may provide more detailed instructions depending on the area and size of the surgery. You typically have have a bulky “pressure” dressing on the surgery area for one day. You may be asked to keep the area dry for 24 hours. Swimming pools, oceans, and Jacuzzis are usually not permitted until the stitches are removed. These may increase your chance of infection. Shower the day after surgery is typically a non-issue. Wound care may require cleaning the wound with soap or hydrogen peroxide two to three times a day and applying petroleum jelly to the area. Mild swelling is not uncommon the first day or two after surgery and can be lessened by use of an ice-bag application, ice cubes or chips in a small Ziploc baggie, or frozen peas in the bag. Leaving the dressing in place, use cold pack application every five to 15 minutes every hour for the first eight to 24 hours after surgery. Swelling is more common for surgeries around the eyes or lips. Sleeping propped up on a few pillows or in a reclining chair may help decrease swelling after surgery of the head and face area.
The surgical area may ooze a little blood or clear liquid especially in the first few hours after surgery; activity may aggravate this. Hot drinks or bending over at the waist can also initiate or worsen bleeding of face wounds. If bleeding occurs, firm pressure applied directly to the site for 10-15 minutes may be helpful. Most bleeding will stop if you apply enough pressure. Notify our office if bleeding persists. Rarely, a visit to the hospital emergency room may be necessary for severe bleeding.
Dr. Sedrak will need to know if pain is increasing after one to two days after your surgery or if you are having fever or other concerning symptoms. In such cases, you may need to be seen at one of our Houston, TX skin cancer centers. The surgical area may need to be checked for bleeding or infection. Limiting hot foods, hot drinks, and heavy chewing for 48 hours may help decrease the chances of postoperative bleeding for wounds around the mouth or cheek areas. Your physician will explain recommended wound care.
Most patients are advised to try to avoid applying makeup or powder directly on a fresh wound unless the surface is fully healed. Skin-colored tape strips called Steri Strips are available to minimize wound leakage and help cover up a visible wound. It is important to follow your physician’s instructions for wound care.