a pain chart ranging from a saw, to a cactus, to bees, to feathers

Skin Cancer Surgery on the Nose: Community Advice

Every skin cancer surgery is unique. That's why it's important to hear a range of possibilities before going under the knife. We asked our community about one of the toughest surgery sites - the nose. From no scars and little pain to major skin grafts and wounds, here's what we learned:

Prepare for pain & anxiety

They stick a needle in your nose and shoot it up with a sedative. It hurts more than you will ever know! They then remove the cancer, have it tested and if the margins aren't clear they do it again (needle) and again until it tests clear. The only other place I consider the pain from a needle is between the fingers. Both are super painful. I'm not looking forward to having mine removed at all. - Bliss

I have anxiety very bad from all my surgeries. Just had one removed from the bridge of my nose last Tuesday but this one I caught early and immediately went to my doctor. I had Mohs surgery - they got it on the first try. Now I hope I can get a break for a little while as the older I get the more anxiety I have. - Kathy

Prepare for the possibility of grafts

I have had several squamous cell cancers on my face, including 3 around and on my nose. You can’t see scarring. The only time I had pain was when I had a large one removed from my forehead and down around my eye and nose with a skin graft on my nose. If I get anymore, I certainly won’t hesitate to have them removed. So you can do this! - Bonnie

I had Mohs about the size of a dime At the end of my nose. Didn’t feel a thing. Took graft from behind ear to fill hole. Only took Tylenol for pain. Bolster bandage the first week to hold graft in place was just annoying and thought I might pull off in sleep, but I didn’t. You will be ok. If you are anxious tell them, usually the assistants will put you at ease. Good Luck! - Jeanne

I had basal on my nose. I can tell you it by far was the most painful surgery of all skin cancers (10) that I have had. The nose is a VERY sensitive area and the anesthesia wears off very quickly. Had to be injected too many times to count. My cancer was there since childhood (we didn’t know). The result: a dime-sized hole on top of my nose and the entire inside of nostril was filled with cancer. Had skin grafts and left with part of my nostril missing. No one knows unless I point it out. Doctors are amazing and the procedures they can do are as well. I hope I don’t scare anyone, just want to share that if I had known so much earlier (had it looked at sooner) this wouldn’t have been as invasive. Had it been squamous I don’t think I would be here. Stay on top of your skin! - Vickie

Know that surgery sites heal in time

Had basal cell on the side of my nose going toward the corner of my eye. Couldn't see anything on the skin, but thanks to the keen eye of my derm she saw it, and did a biopsy, and sent me to a Mohs specialist at UAB. He removed it along with surrounding tissue, sutured, sent me on my way looking, well, terrible! Within 1 year, the scare is completely gone & can't tell anything was done. Thankful for those yearly scans. - Debbie

I had Mohs done on a very small spot on side of nose right by eye. They had to put me to sleep and did a flap on forehead. Also had Mohs on lip. It went about 2 inches outside of mouth and about an inch in mouth. Great results. Almost unnoticeable. - Joy

Advice for future treatments

A suggestion from one who went through a biopsy on my nose followed by Mohs. Have them use Lidocaine cream to numb the area before the needle. Less painful. No fun for sure but at least it doesn't hurt as much for the nose biopsy. - Donna

I ended up being hospitalized a week after surgery due to dehydration. Due to the pain I didn't eat or drink much. Stay hydrated and fed after the procedure. - Linda

From the neck up, use a plastic surgeon. I have had several squamous removed from my head and face and you can’t tell. One Mohs on my ear is more obvious. The ones on my legs have left dents. - Judith

Find a top notch doc that does MOHs procedure. Once you know you are prone to any skin cancers, be ever vigilant! I have alerted my dermatologist to each of my melanomas, several squamous cell and basil cell. You know your body. If something seems different, get it checked out. Use your sunblocks hats and protective clothing. - Mary

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