Dermatologists not only diagnose skin cancer, but they treat skin cancer too. This includes performing skin surgery. There are also times when a benign lesion such as a cyst or mole may require surgical removal. Our doctors are highly trained in skin surgery and have each performed thousands of surgeries over the years. We perform surgery in our office under local anesthesia (you do not have to be “put under” with general anesthesia).

Your doctor will always take the time to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options in depth and will answer all of your questions regarding the details of your procedure. After your surgery is complete, you will be given detailed care instructions both verbally and in written form, and you will be given a number to call day or night if you have any concerns. Your doctor will advise you on how to minimize any scarring that might develop so that you have both a medically and cosmetically optimal outcome.

Frequently asked questions about surgery

Will it hurt?

All patients are numbed prior to surgery so that they are comfortable and do not feel any discomfort during the procedure. Patients are often nervous about surgery if they haven’t had a skin surgery before – this is normal! Our staff and physicians are sensitive to this, and they will help to make you as relaxed as possible.

Will I have a scar?

Yes. Every surgery, even surgery performed by a plastic surgeon, will leave a scar. Some scars are more visible than others.

The appearance of a scar depends on a variety of factors. The location on the body is one of the most important. Legs, for example, take many weeks longer than the face to heal and often develop more visible scars. The back has very thick skin and therefore back scars are at higher risk for what we call a “spread scar.” Also, individual patients scar differently. Some patients develop keloid scars (a raised pink, tender scar) while others do not.

Aftercare of the site also affects healing. Careful adherence to the post care instructions will minimize the risk of infection and maximize your chance of healing well.

Finally, surgeon skill level is also important. Each of our doctors have performed thousands of skin surgeries and do their best each and every time to make a scar as unnoticeable as possible.

It is also important to remember that scars take a long time to fully mature, and your doctor can often perform treatments to a scar after surgery to make a scar look its best.

I am on blood thinners, is that a problem?

Absolutely NOT. Most of our skin surgery patients are on blood thinners, sometimes multiple blood thinners. In general, we do NOT recommend stopping your blood thinner prior to any procedures. We are well equipped to handle bleeding, and this is far less dangerous than putting yourself at risk for a cardiovascular event.

Will I have stitches?

Yes. Usually we use stitches on the inside and outside of the skin. The internal stitches dissolve over the course of several months, but the outside stitches will need to be removed in 1 to 2 weeks depending on the body site where the procedure is performed. You will need to return to the office to have your stitches removed.

What are my restrictions?

While the stitches are in, you will be able to shower, but you will not be allowed to swim in a pool or the ocean. Light activity is fine after the first day or two, but you will not be able to perform strenuous activity that stretches the area of the stitches.

Do you check to make sure the cancer is gone?

Yes. Every time we perform surgery, the tissue is sent to the lab to confirm that the edges are free of cancer. We will call you with the results either way, but it is rare to have to go back again and perform another surgery because of a “positive margin.”

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