As you prepare for your skin cancer surgery, you may be unsure as to what your next steps should be after surgery. Here are a few things that you should plan to do after your surgery to promote the healing process and spot future instances of skin cancer.
1. Rethink Your Movement Until Your Incision is Healed
How much you have to alter your activities of daily life depends on the location of your skin cancer and the size of your incision. For example, if the skin cancer is on your face or chest, you can likely keep your activity level the same. However, if the cancer was on an arm, leg, or foot, you'll need to rethink your activities, especially if the wound is large. Your surgeon will usually advise that you keep your activity light until until the incision closes.
If you work at a job that is physically strenuous, you'll likely need to request light duty until your wound is healed. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on the severity of your surgery and the healing process.
2. Cover Up Your Incision
When you go out in the sun, make sure that you cover up your incision. If you expose your incision to sunlight, this can worsen the appearance of your scar. The sunlight affects your skin's pigments, causing your scar to be red, raised, or discolored.
Once your surgeon gives the okay, you can start applying a special cream to your scar to reduce its appearance.
3. Schedule Any Reconstruction Procedures
Depending on the site of your skin cancer surgery, you may need to undergo a reconstruction procedure. Most surgeons recommend waiting until you know you are cancer free before you undergo your reconstruction procedures.
Though small incisions will likely heal on their own, larger ones may require a skin graft. To perform a skin graft, your surgeon literally takes skin from another part of your body and grafts it to the wound.
4. Come Up with a Plan to Continue to Monitor for Future Skin Cancer
Unfortunately, many patients who have skin cancer develop cancer again. It is important to consult with your dermatologist to come up with a plan to detect future skin cancer.
Your doctor will probably recommend that you examine your body once a month for moles that have signs of cancer. You should also take note of your moles' appearances so that you can spot any changes that are indicative of cancer.