Wound Care a Crucial Aspect of Mohs Recovery
- Posted on: Feb 14 2019
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Mohs is the most refined technique to be developed for skin cancer patients. Because of its high success rate and minimally-invasive nature, Mohs has become one of the leading methods of removing basal and squamous cell carcinomas and even some melanomas. This micrographic surgery is ideal for skin cancers located in highly visible parts of the body such as the face and hands.
The premise of the Mohs technique is that this surgical process maps and removes slight layers of tissue one at a time. Microscopic examination occurs immediately and subsequent layers of tissue are removed as needed to ensure full elimination of cancerous cells from the area. As meticulous as Mohs surgery is, the fact remains that lesion excision leaves a wound. Any wound, whether surgical or traumatic, poses a risk for infection and scarring. Therefore, patient care does not end with the completion of this procedure; it continues in the area of wound healing.
Immediate Wound Care after Mohs
Patients who undergo Mohs must be provided with clear instructions directing them how to care for their surgical wound. Initially, the wound should be dressed with slight compression to promote adequate clotting. Infection risk is reduced by instructing the patient to keep their wound dry for at least 24 hours after their procedure. Typically, patients are able to bathe the day following Mohs, taking care to pat their wound dry after showers.
Bleeding risk is typically associated with strenuous activity that causes heart rate to increase. Patients are generally advised to avoid too much physical activity for a few days. No lifting heavy objects or performing aerobic activity like jogging. Walking is usually permitted as long as heart rate is not raised much.
Watching for Signs of Infection
Infection is one of the most significant concerns immediately after skin cancer removal. Patients need to be instructed to watch for indications such as:
- Expansion of redness around the surgical wound. Red splotches or threads suggest infection may be spreading.
- Clear drainage may be noticed from the surgical wound, but colored or cloudy drainage is concerning and needs to be evaluated.
- Enlarged lymph nodes near the area of surgery.
- Worsening pain.
Scarring is a secondary concern and one that can be managed with conventional remedies. As the Mohs wound heals, patients should avoid sun exposure as much as possible. A silicone dressing may be applied as directed to keep the healing tissue moist. Mohs surgeons sometimes carry products they know to have good quality, taking the guesswork out of wound care for their patients.
The American Society for Mohs Surgery is committed to ongoing education and support for clinicians interested in this skin cancer surgical technique. To learn more about our courses and membership, call (800) 616-2767.
Posted in: MOHS Surgery