Post-surgery recovery

I had my Basal Cell Carcinoma removed by Mohs micrographic surgery.  As it was partly on my nostril, and partly in the crease of my nose, my consultant advised against stitching the wound, suggesting that leaving it to heal itself would create a more natural (and cosmetically pleasing) result.  He explained that, though it would take longer, the wound should naturally fill out and cover with skin.

So my wound was simply cauterised, packed and covered with a dressing for me to leave the hospital and I was instructed to unpack it the following day, clean it and fill it daily with antiseptic cream until it filled out (apparently, by filling it with cream, this encouraged the tissue to fill out and discouraged the skin from growing over it until it had done so). Well, without getting too graphic and going into all the gory details, I did a very poor job of doing this on the first day and almost fainted in the process. I remember clearly looking at myself in the mirror and seeing this 5mm wide by 10mm deep wound staring back at me and knowing that I simply couldn’t do this for the next month or so. Looking back now, I sound like a terribly spoilt child – luckily, I have private health insurance through work and managed to get a nurse to replace my dressings daily for the next month.  All I can say is that I think, if the wound had been elsewhere on my body I would have been able to deal with it. But, somehow having it staring back at me in the mirror made it all the more shocking!  Like I say, I don’t think I’m particularly vain but it was just horrible and I couldn’t do it – I just couldn’t see how the crater was ever going to grow out and I kept envisaging myself with a hole in my face forever.

I didn’t experience any pain during the healing process, even when the nurses were cleaning out the crater and replacing the dressing every day. I wasn’t even that concerned about going out to work and having to get on the Tube with a large dressing on my face. It was more the reaction of some people that I found distressing – I lost count of the number of people who would unabashedly stare at me when I was out in public; they didn’t even hide the fact. It gave me a real insight into how people treat those with physical deformities and what those poor individuals must go through every day! Goodness knows what the reactions will be once this cream takes effect (others say that their faces scared little kids when they were going through treatment)!

Anyway, I was finally able to look at the wound again and start cleaning and dressing it myself after about 5 weeks, when the crater was minimal and I could finally get some sort of idea what my scar would look like. Skin then started to grow over the wound and I started to feel more normal again.

From here, I had to massage the wound daily to soften the skin and help to create a more natural look. I’m pleased to say that it’s healing very well and, people say that if they didn’t know I’d had the op, they wouldn’t notice – which is great. The outer edge of my left nostril is now slightly thinner than my right and the scar is slightly pinky but, all in all, a great result! I’m continuing with the massage hoping it will improve further.

In some ways, I regret not taking photos of the original wound so I could compare before and after. But, that first glance is so engrained on my memory that I kinda don’t need any. And, I certainly wouldn’t inflict them on you! If you want to find out more and read about one individual’s experience of Mohs, I’d recommend taking a look at this lady’s blog entries.

  1. January 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    Thank you so much for the link to my blog. Before I had my surgery, I would’ve definitely thought I or you were being a bit vain when it came to the holes in our face! But now, post surgery, honey you and I are NOT vain! We both shared the inexplicable urge to pass out when we first saw our wounds. For that I’m not ashamed anymore. And I still have my moments as you know that it keloided on me and I’m having to further go through more pain.

    I never realized the impact this would have on me and I must say, I have a certain amount of fear going on right now about future skin cancers coming down the road. It’s that fear of not being in control but having to react after the fact. I thought I’d let you know I had to have another biopsy done on my nose and I go back this Monday for the suture removal and pathology results. I’m getting weak in the stomach hoping I don’t get the dreaded sentence again so think of me this weekend please!

    Tammi

    • January 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      Tammi

      Good to hear from you. Sorry not to have replied sooner.

      I hope all went well today and have my fingers crossed for you. Do let me know the outcome. And best of luck with your keloid follow-up.

      Take care.

      Lisa

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