I got my stitches out! And the scar doesn’t look bad at all!
Nine days after having Mohs surgery for the basal cell carcinoma near my eyebrow, I went back to the surgeon for a follow-up visit. I was eager to get my stitches out, and to be able to exercise again. But, I was also anxious. The site was somewhat sore, and I was worried that it would hurt when he removed the stitches.
Getting anxious about potential pain
I took a shower that morning, and carefully washed the incision with soap and water, then patted it dry and applied antibiotic cream with a large Q-tip applicator, as I had been doing every day for the past 9 days. I looked at the black stitches and told myself that this was the last morning I would see them as glanced in the mirror. I felt a combination of excitement – to be done with this ritual and see what the scar looked like – and fear – at the thought of the surgeon pulling out the stitches and possibly feeling pain, but also at the possibility that he would be unhappy with the result, or even worse, that he would find an infection at the site of the incision.
I drove 40 minutes to the surgeon’s office, introduced myself to the receptionist, and took a seat in the waiting room. A man with a white band on his thin left calf walked out the door that led to the exam rooms, accompanied by his wife. They stopped at the desk and I was distracted listening to their conversation about how to fill their prescriptions. A woman sat with her head bent toward her knees, glancing at the floor. I wondered why she was there.
Snipping away the stiches
After about 20 minutes, the nurse came out and called my name, and I followed her into an open exam room, where she told me to sit in a reclining chair. She asked how I was feeling, and how much pain I had experienced in the days since the surgery. She looked at my stitches and told me the incision looked good, and that the surgeon would be in soon. After about 10 more minutes, he walked in, and asked how I felt. He then reclined the chair I was sitting in and looked more closely at the incision, saying it looked good. He asked me to close my eyes tightly as he cleaned the incision site, and then said he was ready to remove the stitches. I asked the nurse if I could hold her hand. She laughed and said sure as she clutched my left hand. The surgeon asked her for an instrument, and then I heard snipping, and after what seemed like about 30 seconds, he said he was done. I asked if it looked good, and he said he was happy with it. Then came the instructions:
- Put sunscreen on it every day, to reduce redness, then rub moisturizer onto the site.
- Make an appointment for the next month to have him examine the site to see if it’s healing okay. But, he said that if I think it looks okay, I can take a picture, text it to him, and if he thinks it looks okay, we’ll cancel the appointment.
- Make an appointment to see my dermatologist for another full body scan in six months.
I’m done, for now at least!