Category Archives: Mohs surgery

How to Hide/Heal a Facial Scar – Chapter 2

Actually, this isn’t really chapter two, but it is the second blog post on hiding and healing a facial scar. I wrote the first one in August of 2013. You can read the post How Emu Oil and Coconut Oil Hid a Facial Scar. I wrote it a year after the Mohs surgery I had in 2012 and showed the result.

Now comes chapter two. Back in September of 2014 I went under the knife again as I had managed to accumulate two basal cell carcinomas. The first was on the other side of my face, symmetry anyone? The second on my back. As occurred the first time, I had about 15 stitches on my face and a scar extending longer than an inch. You can see it on the illustration below. In the interest of brevity, I am not going to do the scar on my back. This way we are comparing apples to apples.

That was six months ago. As I did before, I applied emu oil and coconut oil to the scar as soon as the bandages came off. Additionally, this year I began wet shaving with a double edge razor rather than the electric I had used for the past decades. I mention that because once I was allowed to shave again (about two weeks after the operation), I found that I nicked myself on the scar several times. That probably didn’t help the healing process much. On the other hand, I would use aloe vera on my face after shaving along with the emu oil and coconut oil. So, perhaps I had extra regenerative work going on.

What is the result? You can see for yourself below. The first photo was taken as soon as the bandages came off, about a week after the surgery.

I had to keep the dressing on for over a week, so this is the first time I could see it after the operation in September 2014.

I had to keep the dressing on for over a week, so this is the first time I could see it after the operation in September 2014.

Below is the second photo which my girlfriend shot this afternoon.

By my reckoning, this is an impressive healing over the course of six months

By my reckoning, this is an impressive healing over the course of six months.

I am very impressed with this healing. Remember, I am not a kid. I turned 75 in January of this year. So, I don’t heal like a youngster.

I would be interested in hearing about any similar experience that you might have had.

Tony

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Filed under hiding a facial scar, Mohs surgery, Skin cancer surgery

Nine Days After Skin Cancer Surgery: Update

This is meant to be just a brief updater. I am in my second week following Mohs skin cancer surgery. Regarding  exercise, I still haven’t ridden my bike or done anything outside of brief walks that would be described as exertion. This is just following doctor orders, also I have very low energy.

Yesterday was the first day since the surgery that I did not take a one to two hour nap in mid-afternoon.

While I have been careful about eating, I have not been crazy scrutinizing every calorie in fear of gaining weight since I am not riding 20 miles a day on my bike as I usually do. In view of that, I am surprised that I have not gained a pound. Most pleasant surprise.

I thought it might be interesting to compare two pictures of the incision on my face. The first was taken two days after the surgery and was the first time the wound was exposed since the nurse bandaged it after the operation. The second was taken this morning. For the record, these stitches are the kind that dissolve over time, so they will not have to be removed. My apologies to the squeamish for these photos. I share your squeam.

Two days after surgery

Two days after surgery

Here is the one from this morning:

This morning ...

This morning, 10 days after surgery.

I have put nothing on this wound except Vaseline to protect it. This morning is my first day to leave it uncovered without the big rectangular bandage. I started to use Emu oil and coconut oil on it today. Will post a picture a year from now to show how well it healed.
Note: I posted on March 26, 2015. Click the link to read it.

If interested in the details on this surgery, check out my posts What Happened During My Skin Cancer Surgery, What About Life After Skin Cancer Surgery? and I Have a Second Skirmish With Skin Cancer.

To complete what I had thought was going to be a very brief post I want to let you know that I had similar surgery on my face in August 2012. I blogged about how well the facial scar healed in How Emu Oil and Coconut Oil Hid a Facial Scar in August 2013.

Tony

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Four Days Removed From Skin Cancer Surgery

I am now in the latter part of my first week following Mohs skin cancer surgery on my face and my shoulder to remove a pair of basal cell carcinomas. I have included links at the end for those of you who might want details of the operations.

My energy is returning slowly, but I am still following the doctor’s instructions to take it easy. I have not ridden my bike since the surgery. The doctor has also prescribed an antibiotic for me to take to fight possible infection in the incisions.

Each day following the surgery I have napped from one to two hours and then gotten a full night’s sleep, so I conclude from that my body is mending itself full time.

My girlfriend has been great about changing my bandages and putting fresh Vaseline on the cuts to protect them from infection.

I am including in this post some unpleasant photos of my incisions, but I thought they might be helpful for anyone who may be going in for surgery or simply wants more details on skin cancer.

cut
The first is a shot of the incision on my face. It measures about 1-1/2 inches. We shot this about 48 hours after the surgery. I wanted to keep it sealed up in the hospital’s original dressing until we had to change it. There were 15 stitches.

The second photo is my shoulder. It measures three inches long and was also taken 48 hours after the operation.

photo 2
Since I had similar surgery on my face two years ago August, I know how these scars can heal. Last year I did a post with photos of the scar a year later. I used Emu oil and coconut oil on the scar regularly to help heal it. You can judge for yourself how well they worked. The post is How Emu Oil and Coconut Oil Hid a Facial Scar.

Here are the links for my earlier posts on this surgery: I Have a Second Skirmish with Skin Cancer, What About Life After Skin Cancer Surgery?

Back in 2012, I did a series of posts on skin cancer which you can find by typing  the words skin cancer into the SEARCH box at the right.

Tony

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What About Life After Skin Cancer Surgery?

I had Mohs surgery Wednesday to remove a basal cell carcinoma on my cheek and another one on my back. I wrote about this being my second skirmish with skin cancer a couple of weeks ago. You can read about it if you want the details.

This is how Mohs surgery works.

This is how Mohs surgery works.

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. The operations took three hours, but at least one hour of that was waiting time. In Mohs surgery, they remove a section of skin and then take it back to the lab to see that they got all the cancer out. If they did they sew you back up. If not, they remove some more skin and go back to the lab for another look. For my two growths, they got it all the first time on my cheek, but had to go back in for a second cut on my back.

My girlfriend met me at the hospital about halfway through the procedure and then we went to lunch to celebrate my being cancer-free. The condemned man ate a hearty meal. It was a great relief to be finished with cancer for now and, hopefully, forever. Remember, I had two fresh wounds on me with at least a dozen stitches in each. I went home, walked the dog and then crashed for two hours.

They gave me a sheet of do’s and don’t’s to protect my stitches. I can not drink alcohol because it thins the blood and may contribute to post operative bleeding. The following is underlined: Avoid strenuous exercise which raises your blood pressure, as well as bending and lifting  that causes your muscles and skin to pull, which may interfere with wound healing.

As regular readers know, I don’t smoke and I advise strongly against it. Here is what the post operation sheet says – Avoid smoking. Smoking reduces the blood supply to healing stitch lines and drastically worsens the appearance of the scar.

I drove 15 miles to the riverboat yesterday for some non-taxing video poker. That certainly wouldn’t strain any muscles. I was surprised to learn that within a half hour, I was v e r y tired. I cut my visit short and found myself worried about falling asleep on the short drive home. I even considered a different route that would keep me off expressways. Long story short, I made it home all right, but took a big nap that ate up the afternoon.

I was low energy the rest of the day, had a light meal and watched a football game from the weekend on my DVR. Went to bed early.

I am writing this Friday morning, I am still low energy after a full night’s sleep. I am not in any way ready to resume riding my bike yet. I feel funny not having any rides or other exercise, but my body doesn’t seem to mind it at all. I listen to my body. First things first.

This is clearly a one day at a time deal.

Tony

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I Have a Second Skirmish With Skin Cancer

As regular readers know I contracted skin cancer two years ago this month. I have included the links to the posts I wrote at the time and inserted them in the final paragraph if you would want the details.

This year our local hospital Northwestern Memorial offered free skin cancer screenings, so my girlfriend and I went on June 18. We each learned that we had a couple of ‘bad’ spots that needed to be removed for a biopsy. My girlfriend got her biopsies done last month and both came back negative for cancer. I had to wait a couple of weeks because I was using a new dermatologist. I had my two trouble spots removed last week and I got the results yesterday. Not good. Each was a basal cell carcinoma – BCC. Skin cancer. Again.

Don't be fooled by this smiling face. His rays are deadly.

Don’t be fooled by this smiling face. His rays are deadly.

As I wrote last year, “The Skin Cancer Foundation says that BCCs are abnormal uncontrolled growths that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of our skin. Usually caused by a combination of UltraViolet exposure. The good (?) news is that they rarely spread.

“There are an estimated 2.8 million cases of BCC diagnosed in the U.S. each year. In fact, it is the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs. It shouldn’t be taken lightly ….”

For the record, after my surgery of August 2012, I practiced ‘safe sun’ with the zeal of a reformed whore. I bought several sunblocks, always the ‘broad spectrum’ variety that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Often when riding my bike I would wear a white long sleeved shirt to protect my arms from the rays. So, I was disappointed to learn that the spot on my face and the one on my back are both cancerous. I guess, on the positive side, I did not have more of them. I would like to think that my efforts to avoid skin cancer had some good effects. Also, each one is about half the size of the tumor I had removed two years ago.

I have booked my Mohs surgery for next month. On September 10 I will go back under the knife.

Here’s what the Skin Cancer Foundation says about Mohs Surgery: “What is Mohs surgery? It is the excision of a cancer from the skin, followed by the detailed mapping and complete microscopic examination of the cancerous tissue and the margins surrounding it. If the margins are indeed cancer-free, the surgery is ended. If not, more tissue is removed, and this procedure is repeated until the margins of the final tissue examined are clear of cancer.”

This is what happens in Mohs surgery. They take more than a layer.

This is what happens in Mohs surgery. They take more than a layer.

The cure rate of the Mohs technique is 99 percent, considerably higher than other methods.”

Here are the links for my first cancer posts: Do I Have Skin Cancer? What Did I Learn After Being Diagnosed with Skin Cancer? What Happened During My Skin Cancer Surgery?

Following are further posts on the subject for you: Important Facts About Skin Cancer, What You Need for May – Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Tony

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How Emu Oil and Coconut Oil Healed a Facial Scar

In August 2012 I was diagnosed with skin cancer. Briefly, I went in to have a lump removed from my cheek and it turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma. I went back in for Moh’s Surgery and had it removed. If interested you can read about it in detail on my Page Skin Cancer Facts in General and My Three Skin Cancer Surgeries in Particular.

My scar two weeks after the operation.

My scar two weeks after the operation.

My surgery left me with a scar just over an inch long with 15 stitches in it on my left cheek. You can see the first photo of it from two weeks after the surgery.

My scar today just short of 12 months after the operation

My scar today just short of 12 months after the operation.

Full disclosure time. I am a senior citizen over 70 years old. Getting a scar like that on my face at a time when my body is no longer generating new cells as it did when I was young left me with expectations of a bit of a facial disfigurement in my future.

What to do about it? Plastic surgery is out of the question for me for financial and other reasons. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, biking, cancer, coconut oil, Mohs surgery, skin cancer