Skin Cancer Surgery

Introduction

Skin cancer is an increasing problem. There are multiple forms of skin cancer and when detected in the head and neck region, Dr Morrissey may be involved in your care.

Indications

The main indications are the various forms of skin cancer are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Basal Cell carcinoma.
  • Melanoma.

Risks

Skin cancer surgery carries the same general risks as all operations including:

  • Pain.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Scarring.

Specific risks of this surgery include:

  • Failure to remove all of the tumour.
  • Cosmetic change.

Treatment Alternatives

If you have a biopsy proven skin cancer, there are very few alternatives to its surgical removal. Dr Morrissey can discuss the nature of treatment with you and let you know if there are reasonable alternatives.

Preoperative Instructions

Surgery for skin cancer can be performed under a local or general anaesthetic depending upon circumstances. Please follow the instructions provided by Dr Morrissey.

Procedure

This will vary case to case. The basic idea is to remove all of the visible tumour with a small margin to ensure complete removal. The wound is then repaired using either direct closure with stitches, a local flap or a skin graft.

Postoperative Instructions

Return to normal activities

It takes a few days for most people to recover from surgery. The surgical site can remain sore for a further week or two as the wound heals.

You may need to stay home from work or school for up to 7 days following surgery. A minimum of 3 days rest after surgery is advisable.

General activities can be resumed when you feel up to it. Please avoid active sports, exercise and heavy lifting for 4 weeks.

Pain relief

You will experience some pain and discomfort for up to 1-2 weeks following surgery.  This can be improved with pain relief but may not entirely disappear. During this time, it is recommended you take some regular pain relief.

Medications

  • Panadol every 4 to 6 hours (with a maximum of 4 doses in a 24hr period), continue this regularly for 7-10 days.  Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ibuprofen and other Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDS). These are excellent pain relief medications following skin cancer surgery. Please take as directed.
  • Oxycodone or Tramadol. These may be needed in the first few days following surgery, but their use should diminish over time. If prescribed, please take as directed. These medications can cause drowsiness and constipation and you should not drive or operate heavy vehicles while taking them.

Please seek advice if pain relief measures are inadequate.

Antibiotics

In most cases, antibiotics given at the time of your operation are adequate and no further antibiotics are needed. In certain circumstances they will however be necessary. If prescribed, please take as directed.

Diet

There are usually no restrictions on diet. You should drink as much as needed to avoid dehydration.

Fever

It is common to have a mild fever for the first 24 hours after the operation.  Please call Dr Morrissey’s rooms or see your GP if there is a persistent fever greater than 38.5°C.

Swelling

Mild swelling of the surgical site is common following surgery. It will be tender to touch.

Please contact Dr Morrissey if you experience any of the following:

  • Sudden neck swelling.
  • Difficulty breathing or lying flat.
  • Change of voice or noisy breathing.
  • Excessive or progressive neck swelling.
  • New onset weakness of facial muscles.
  • Inability to swallow.

Stitches and Wounds

Dr Morrissey typically uses dissolving sutures. In circumstances where sutures or staples have been used, they are typically removed 7-10 days after surgery.

Exposed wounds are often managed with topical creams and ointments. Please apply as prescribed.

Vermillionectomy and Lip Surgery

A soft diet is helpful initially in lip and oral surgery, but you may increase your intake as comfort allows.

Cream or ointment should be applied to the surgical sites as prescribed.

Follow Up Appointment

At the time you book your surgery a post-operative appointment will usually be organised. Please contact Dr Morrissey if you are unsure as to the appointment details.

How to contact Dr Morrissey

For non-emergency issues please call (07) 4646 4275 for further instructions.

Dr Morrissey shares ‘on-call’ arrangements with other ENT surgeons and one is usually available to answer questions. After hours the “on call” ENT surgeon can be contacted via the Toowoomba Base Hospital on (07) 4616 6000.

Should your concerns not be addressed via a phone call, please present to your nearest Emergency Department.

In the event of an Emergency call 000 or attend the nearest Emergency Department.

Related Information

Head and Neck Lumps