Facing a skin cancer removal in your future? Don’t be scared! It’s not as bad as you think.
Watch my latest video to get the scoop on what to expect during the procedure and the healing process!
Hey guys! I’ve been skin cancer-free for about 2 full months now and I’ve finally got my second installment in my skin cancer video series ready for you! If you or someone you know needs to have skin cancer removed (or you’re just curious about it!) I hope you’ll watch and share and help educate others.
Or just scroll down past the video to read the audio portion. I hope it helps someone out there who’s wondering and worrying about a skin cancer as well.
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Today is the second segment in my skin cancer video, talking all about the procedure, post-op, pain, what went on, etc.
So in video, 1 (watch that here!) I talked a lot about my feelings before the procedure, what I was going through, the thought that maybe I’d be scarred for life…I had a lot of emotions! Since then, things have gotten a lot better in that department. First of all, here’s how the procedure went: so mine was a little bit different than some people’s because I ended up going to a plastic surgeon after the initial doctor’s appointment where they remove the cancer.
I showed up really early in the morning and brought Luke with me because I was super freaked out and I wanted somebody to hold my hand! The doctor laid me back in a chair and started giving me shots in my nose. Honest-to-goodness, the absolute worst part of the whole thing was just shots in the face, and the nose especially since it’s super sensitive. It hurt, I’m not gonna lie. It made me want to cry! For the procedure itself, I got maybe 5 or 6 shots. The shot itself hurt but it was when they started pushing the lidocaine into my nose that it really hurt! It started making my nose feel really swollen, puffy and heavy so that was a really weird sensation.
But once that was over, it was not as big a deal as I thought it was gonna be. After that, they did some scraping and I just kept my eyes closed and tried not to listen. Luke said he didn’t want to watch either so he kept looking away while holding my hand. At the very end, they did some cauterizing so I smelled burning flesh, and that was kind of gross. But it was really quick, like ten minutes or less. They finished up and went out to analyze it.
So, I’m sitting there just watching the news with Luke for a few minutes and the doctor came back in and didn’t even give me a second to think about it, he just blurted out, “We got it all in one cut. We’re done!”
Yay! I was so happy. I’m thinking how great it is that it only needed one pass, and how that means there’s probably not gonna be any scar since they hardly took anything. So, as soon as the doctor leaves I ask Luke to take a picture for me to document it since I wanted to know what it looked like before they close it up.
Ok guys, a word to the wise: DON’T look at it! If you get this done, do not look until it’s all closed up because it was so gnarly! It kind of just looked like they took like a melon baller to my nose, it was really deep. Gross! After I saw that and I freaked myself out a little bit, we took off and left from the dermatologist’s office and drove to the plastic surgeon’s. This was a whole different deal. At the dermatologist’s, I sat in a regular doctor’s office and they did a little scraping and sent me out the door.
At the plastic surgeon’s surgery center, it was literally surgery. First I went into the pre-op area and then they take you into an actual surgery room, just like your basic OR except there’s just a chair instead of a bed. Once in there, I was able to ask the doctor a couple of questions and she cleared up some misconceptions and kind of put to rest some of my fears. Then she told me exactly what they were gonna do.
When the doctor removed the cancer, he cut it out a perfect circle on the side of my nose. The plastic surgeon said they couldn’t just cinch up that skin to close it, because it would look weird. So instead, she drew a triangle with a marker above the circle so it kind of looked like an upside-down ice-cream cone. Then she said they were gonna cut along that triangle and pull the skin down over the hole and just cinch up the top part and stitch it all the way around.
Again, they gave me more shots, maybe 8 or 9, and by the last 2 or 3 shots there was so much lidocaine in my nose that it was running down the back of my throat and numbing my throat. It was pretty gross. But after the shots were done, she got to work and the rest was really pretty pleasant. She was a very nice doctor and we chatted it up. As she did the cutting and the pulling, I really did not feel anything other than a little bit of pressure and that was it.
I could see her out of the corner of my eye doing the stitching at the end and then we were done. The closure was like a 10 or 15
minute procedure and that was it. The most discomfort at this point was just that my nose felt swollen and really heavy it was almost like somebody put a weight on my face. She bandaged me up with a humungous bandage and sent me on my way.
As far as the recovery went, that day I kind of had a mild headache all day and a really big weight on my face and then just a lot of numbness. They did give me a couple of extra strength Tylenol while I was there and then I grabbed Tylenol and ibuprofen on the way home because I was really nervous that when that wore off it would really hurt. When I did the biopsy, that was actually quite painful once the numbing started wearing off but the procedure was not anywhere near as bad once the feeling began to return. I went home, took another ibuprofen and Tylenol that night and by the next morning I didn’t need anything at all! There was no pain although there was definitely soreness. At one point, my baby whacked me in the face and I was thought, “Ooooh, that hurt so bad!” but if nobody touched it, it was really fine.
I got the procedure done August 29 and that was exactly a month ago to the day (I filmed this on September 29th). It feels and looks great right now! When they sent me home, they put some steri tape across my procedure site and then just said to leave the big bandage on for a day. After that I washed my face like normal and left the tape on for a week until the first post-op appointment. I was also instructed to put lots of Vaseline on top of the tape so that it stayed really moist under there and never developed the typical hard, crusty scab.
When I went in for the post-op, the nurse took the tape off and wiped that gunk away. Maybe this is TMI, but it smelled so gross! Blech. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that part. Once she peeled off the tape, she showed me a mirror and I was really blown away by how good it looked! There were a couple little spots around the incision area that had not fully healed so she told me to keep it bandaged until that was completely healed. But honestly, after one week I was so amazed at how well it was healing.
I went to one other post-op appointment where the nurse just told me that she liked the looks of it and I don’t need to keep it bandaged anymore. So now my job is just to make sure that I do what it takes to minimize the scarring. There are a couple of things that she suggested:
1. I’m supposed to massage the scar. There are a few lumps and bumps underneath scar at both the top and bottom of the incision and in order for it to look as smooth as possible, I’m supposed to massage it really vigorously which kind of hurts but it’s not a huge deal.
2. She suggested using a couple of scar minimizing treatments. I researched a ton on Amazon and read other bloggers’ experiences and what they used and I ended up choosing this Bio Oil and Mederma. Both got great reviews and seem to have good success in minimizing scarring, although I need to use them for several months before seeing results.
The other recommendation I got was to use silicone strips or liquid that you can paint on. Silicone is supposed to be really good for scars. I didn’t end up buying any though, I thought I’d use what I had first.
3. The last thing the nurse said is to make sure I always have sunscreen on it (obviously). The sunscreen is really good at minimizing the damage done by the sun to scars as well. A good friend of mine sent me a bottle of tinted sunscreen called Ulta MD Skincare UV physical broad-spectrum SPF 41. I really like using this; I put it on before anything else and it’s kind of like a good base for my makeup and doesn’t have a white pasty look, like most physical sunscreens. Its active ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are really important for sunscreen because those create a physical barrier to the sun.
I’m really happy with how everything turned out and I’m excited for the future and what it will look like. I’m not really self-conscious about it at all which I’m so grateful for because I know it could’ve been a lot worse.
If skin cancer removal is something that you’re facing, don’t despair and don’t freak out. It’s gonna be fine! It’s a lot scarier at the outset than once you’ve gone through it and even if you end up with a scar let it be a chance to educate others. Anytime somebody asks you about it, you can say it was skin cancer and here’s what I’m doing to protect myself and my family.
Hopefully we can help keep others from suffering from skin cancer, whether the non-lethal kind like my basal cell carcinoma or a really scary melanoma. Let’s educate each other and take care of each other!
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