You're Having Mohs Surgery? Advice For A Friend
“Guess who has a basal cell carcinoma?” my friend texted me last week. I was surprised and scared for her, and I texted back that I would talk to her later that day. When we met at spin class, she lifted the leggings covering her left shin and showed me the spot, and told me she was having Mohs surgery the following week. My friend has listened to me speak about my two Mohs procedures, and she has also read the articles I’ve written for this site.
She asked for any advice I had, and this is what I shared with her.
How to prepare before a Mohs surgery
- Buy food and anything else you’ll need for the next week. You won’t be allowed to lift anything after the surgery, so get everything you need beforehand. I also didn’t want anyone to see the bandage on my face for the first few days after my first Mohs surgery (the second time I didn’t care). So it was helpful to have all the food I needed in the house beforehand, and to do any errands that needed to be done.
- Buy an ice pack and/or frozen peas. I put them on according to the post-op instructions and it worked to reduce the swelling. Plus, the peas felt softer than the hard ice pack against the surgical site.
- Make sure you have extra strength Tylenol and Advil in the house to take after the surgery.
- The night before the procedure, do something that helps you relax and takes your mind off what’s going to be happening the next day. I know that’s easy to say, but for me having dinner with friends helped to distract me. Other ideas include taking an exercise class, doing yoga, taking a walk, anything that you like to do.
- Don’t schedule any travel for at least one week after surgery, after the surgeon removes your stitches.
- Go to the gym, go for a run or a walk, lift weights, or do any other strenuous activity, because you won’t be allowed to exercise for about a week after the surgery.
Planning for day-of Mohs surgery
- Bring a snack and water and something to read. You will have to wait while they bring the sample to the lab. I waited between 45 minutes - 1 hour. It's helpful to have something to do to distract you and something to eat and drink so you’re not starving.
- Be prepared to see some people with big bandages in the waiting room. It surprised me a bit, and scared me too.
- Eat something before you go so you're not starving while you're there.
- Take control of what you can control.
- Follow the post op instructions, as I'm sure you'll do. But really, my stitches stayed in and my scar looks pretty good.
Does anyone have any other advice to offer? What worked for you before, during and after Mohs surgery?
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?