Post Mohs Surgery Complications
Last updated: March 2023
My first Mohs surgery on a squamous cell cancer near my tear duct went smoothly. But while the procedure itself was OK for the second two squamous cells, the healing process ranged from awkward to awful.
First, the awkward.
Squamous cell carcinoma on the lip
A tiny area on the top of my right lip kept flaking. A biopsy showed it to be a squamous cell cancer. The same doctor who did my first removed it.
It’s a sensitive area, so the needle going in for the anesthesia stung. True confessions, I used to get electrolysis. Imustachetoo bad when she did the ends of my facial hair (in other words, my moustache). But when she got to closer to my nose, tears streamed down my face. It was kind of like that.
During the procedure, I couldn’t feel anything. He got it all in one pass. Because of the location, the dressing was a pain, not as in painful, but as in, a pain to deal with. It was hard to eat or talk with tape and gauze perched on my lip like a little piece of a mustache. It kept falling off. I kept pressing it back on.
The day that it came off was such a relief.
My lip Mohs surgery experience
It healed nicely. If you look closely, you can see a tiny notch at the top of my lip. But if you didn’t know, it would not be obvious. When I used to press my face right up to the mirror and complain about my blemishes, my mother would say, “Then don’t look so closely.”
I try to remember that few people look good if they press their face against the mirror. So I try not to scrutinize myself, but it’s a challenge.
Now for the awful.
My neck Mohs surgery experience
I had a squamous cell cancer on my neck, also the left side. The surgery itself was OK. Once again, the healing was problematic.
The surgeon said that instead of stitching the wound, he would leave it open. It would heal better that way. His nurse covered it with a dressing.
Bleeding complications post-op
I had scheduled a checkup at the nearby Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for after the Mohs. It was a routine follow-up in the hematologic oncology department, where I was being monitored after a stem cell transplant.
My plan called for taking a shuttle bus from the surgeon’s office to Dana-Farber, about a 20-minute ride.
I left the office and walked the short distance to the shuttle stop. My neck began to feel warm. When I put my hand on it, I realized the feeling was from blood oozing.
The nurse had given me extra gauze. I pressed it to the wound. Then the bus arrived. I got on, blood dripping down my neck. It soaked through the extra dressing.
The bus finally stopped in front of Dana-Farber. I was glad that at least I was in the right place. I went up to the reception desk at the clinic and shouted, “Can somebody help me? I’m bleeding.”
A nurse came out with more bandages. She applied pressure. The bleeding eventually stopped. I was not happy. Neither was my dermatologist. The next time, she sent me to a Mohs surgery center at a hospital.
Have you ever dealt with difficulties after skin cancer surgery? How have you handled them?
How often do you worry about skin cancer coming back?
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