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Mary1966
05-16-2008, 10:43 AM
Hi - I just had a basal cell carcinoma excised from my left temple yesterday. I thought I would share my story because I understand the anxiety some of you are experiencing in anticipation of surgery.

I was referred to a dermatologist by my PCP to have a spot checked on my face about a month ago. It wasn't a very big spot, but it had been cracking, flaking, and sometimes bleeding over the past couple years. I went to the dermatologist and they scraped part of the spot off with a scalpel. They called me a week later with the results and told me it was in fact nodular BCC. I was going to have to have it removed by excision.

I've never really had surgery before (except to have my wisdom teeth removed) so I was a little uneasy about someone taking a chunk of skin out of my face! But I just tried to learn as much as I could about BCC in the meantime while I awaited my surgery.

I went in for my surgery yesterday with lots of anxiety, but the doctor was really nice and that helped me relax. She explained exactly what she was going to do, which I very much appreciated. She numbed me up with a local anesthetic then she started to do the cutting. I couldn't feel a thing, except for some pulling when she began the stitching. The first layer of stitches were a little tight (these are the inner stitches that will dissolve over time). It felt like my eyebrow was being pulled or stretched out of place, so they removed the stitches and started over! That was a little unpleasant, especially when they had trouble stopping the bleeding. They had to use a cauterizer which I could hear searing my skin and the smell was pretty bad.
She started the stitches over and the next time they felt much better (no pulling). Then she began the second layer of stitches (these are the outer layer of stitches which I'll have to have removed in about a week). It was a strange sensation because I could sort of feel her moving back and forth through my skin, but there was no pain. After the surgery was over, she put a pressure bandage over the entire site (the tape/bandage extends all the way from the top of my forehead down to my jawbone!) and explained how I should take care of wound. I haven't actually seen the surgery site yet, but I will have to look at it tomorrow when I remove the bandages. Yikes! Apparently she cut out a chunk that was something like 4mm x 7mm. Hmmm...

When I got home, I took a couple of regular-strength Tylenol and had some lunch. I didn't feel queasy or anything - in fact, I felt pretty good! I was so happy the surgery was over - I had been agonizing over it for weeks. I just spent the rest of the day relaxing. I noticed some bruising starting to appear (she told me this would happen) around my eye a few hours later. I iced the area on and off throughout the day, which felt really good (It was super hot here yesterday!). Trying to sleep last night wasn't all that fun. I kept wanting to lie on the side of my surgery, but I'm not supposed to because of the stitches. But I woke up this morning feeling remarkably good. I even considered going in to work, but decided my co-workers would be better off not having to look at my scary face! There is a little more bruising under my eye and a little more swelling, but virtually no pain (except for when I laugh or open my mouth too wide). I was so glad to wake up knowing that the surgery is behind me now. Now I have to just focus on the healing process which, apparently, is a long time. I'm curious to see what the surgery site actually looks like. I remove the bandages tomorrow. I'll report back when I get a chance.

If anyone has any questions they'd like me to answer, I'd be happy to try! And if you're facing this surgery in the near future, all I can say right now is it's really not that bad (at least it wasn't for me). The healing part is another story, though - I'll just have to wait and see how that goes over the next year.

Mary

sudo59
05-16-2008, 02:54 PM
Hi Mary,

How funny, I had surgery yesterday for BCC too! Mine was on the nose, I had Mohs done.

You can read all about it if you like in my "I'm soooooooooo scared" post.

I'm glad to here yours went well, mine did too.

Thanks for posting.

Mary

ruth ann
05-16-2008, 03:03 PM
Hi, Mary,

I am now about 10 weeks post op from also having BCC removed from my nose.
Like Sudo, I had Moh's surgery. I'm glad your surgery went well. Mine
was pretty easy, also. The big thing for me now is trying to minimize the scar
site from the operation. It's looking pretty good, but those inside stitches that they leave in take a couple of months to dissolve. They leave the skin reddish.
My skin is finally getting back to looking normal on my nose.

Glad you posted. It's great to hear from someone else who's done this!

Best,

Ruth Ann

Mary1966
05-16-2008, 08:54 PM
Hi (Sudo)Mary and Ruth Ann -

Mary, that is funny we had our surgeries on the same day! I just read your "I'm sooo scared" posts. Sounds like we were experiencing a lot of the same emotions. Aren't you so happy the surgery is over and you can focus on the healing now?

So both you and Ruth Ann had the Mohs procedure. That's supposed to be really good. I'm not sure why I wasn't offered that (?). Ruth Ann, that's interesting to hear about the internal stitches. I didn't know they stayed in that long - I was kind of wondering when they'd go away... Did you guys experience significant bruising on the next day? My bruising has gotten progessively worse throughout the day today and I've gotten a little more swollen, but I'm not experiencing any significant pain. I've got a really nice black eye going - very attractive! I'm just trying to ice it from time to time. I haven't been taking any pain meds. I'm drinking lots of water, which I think is helping a lot.

I'm glad to be able to connect with people who are going through the same thing. Thanks for sharing your experiences with me. I'll let you know how things go when I remove the bandages tomorrow. Good night!

Mary

sudo59
05-17-2008, 08:05 AM
Hi Mary,

Funny you should ask about the bruising and swelling. Yesterday my left eye was just about swolen shut, today the eye is a bit better but my left cheek is completely swolen. I've been trying to ice it for about 10 minutes every hour. Mine doesn't hurt either, it's just uncomfortable.

I admit, part of me still wonders, "hmm, did they get it all out???", do any of you wonder that? I guess I'm just a worrier. The part that freaked me out a bit was when he said, "hmm, that was close to the bone!". But, I'm assuming "clear margins" are clear margins right!

Mary, are you coating your incision with polysporin? That's what the Dr. told me to use and he said it really aids in less scarring. He also said to keep a bandaid over it, probably cuz he doesn't want me scaring small children! hahaha

Ruthann, I want to try and find that stuff you are using for your scar. I'll look for that once my stitches are out.

I hope you guys keep posting, it's encouraging talking to other people that are going thru this together.

My husband is pushing me to go out to the flower market with him today and I don't want to. It's not just "how" I look but I just kind of feel uncomfortable from the swelling. I was supposed to be playing in a tennis tournament tomorrow too that I have to bail out of. The Dr. even said he didn't think it'd be a good idea this soon. I'm hoping it rains so the tournament just gets cancelled all together, is that being mean?

Talk to you later.

Mary1966
05-19-2008, 10:03 PM
Hi Mary - sorry you had to miss your tennis tournament this weekend. Did you at least make it to the flower market? I missed out on a fun run in the city this weekend because of my surgery (Bay to Breakers in SF). Oh well, maybe next year!

I took the bandages off on Saturday and I was a little shocked. The row of stitches running down along the side of my face is 3cm long! The surgery site doesn't hurt or anything and I can't figure out why (?). You'd think it would be really sore by now... But it looks nice and clean. The stitches are actually kind of cool! On Saturday I still had a pretty good amount of swelling and bruising, but today (Monday) it's mostly gone. There's still sort of this yellowish tinge beneath my left eye where the bruise was - kind of looks like jaundice!

I have been cleaning the surgery site 2x/day, applying a prescription antibiotic ointment, and keeping it covered with a bandage. I get the stitches out on Thursday and will start to apply the scar cream 3x/day (if my docotor says it's okay). I have something called Mederma that I got over-the-counter at Rite-Aid. It's supposed to be a really good scar cream and it has a SPF of 30, which is nice.

Okay, I'm headed off to bed. Will check in again soon. Good night!

Mary

sudo59
05-20-2008, 06:28 AM
Hi Mary,

You're a runner too! So am I. I run about 4 miles 4-5 days a week. I never run much further than that, I have calves that don't much like me running, so if I run too much they start to cramp up.

I'm really milking the surgery now, I still have not gone back to work. Partly because my job is very public oriented. I give customer tours at our building. I work in the automotive industry in Michigan, (just about everybody works in automotive in Michigan!). Anyway, there is no way to hide the stitches without a big bandaid across my nose. The swelling and beautiful hue of yellow is even harder to hide! My eye is no longer swelling but my cheek still hasn't gone completely down to normal size yet.

My incision starts at the bridge of my nose and runs all the way down the side. When I look at it really close it does seem to be closing good. Thats funny you have the Mederma, I was just reading all about it online yesterday. I plan to ask my Dr. as well if he thinks it will help diminish my scar.

You know what I found pretty interesting about this entire process is that when searching BCC you rarely can find any "finished, healed" pictures of the incision. That would have made me feel better to see some pictures of BCC like 3 months after, 6 months after and 1 year after.

Hmmmm, maybe I should create a website dedicated to BCC....

Anyway, hopefully by this weekend I can play in the Memorial Day tennis mixer!

Talk to you soon,

Mary

ruth ann
05-20-2008, 10:50 AM
Hi, Mary and Mary!

I'm glad to hear you're both recovering quickly. As far as the scarring, since
I'm farther down the road - in one week I'll be 3 months post op - I can tell
you that finally the redness on my nose where the surgery was is finally going
away. It's still red, but now much closer to the original skin color. This change
has mainly been since I've been using the scar strips that I leave on all
time. Before that I used scar gel from a tube, and the improvement wasn't as
dramatic. It was also kind of messy. The redness, they explained at the dermatologist, is due to the internal stitches that
they just leave in after the surgery. They take about 3 months to dissolve.

Now that the redness is subsiding, I can see the actual incision lines of the surgery more clearly. I can see that that's the scar to keep an eye on. With
all the redness in the area, I couldn't see it before. The other thing that's improving a lot with the scar strips is the lump of scar tissue on my nose
where they cut. Before, when I ran my finger over my nose, I felt a big bump
there. At follow up appts., they've told me that the bump is scar tissue, and
that it may or may not go away entirely, depending on how everything heals.

Since I've been using the scar strips (adhesive treated with scar gel that you
tape onto your scar site like a small bandaid), the scar tissue bump has almost all disappeared. The skin feels and looks smoother, almost back to normal. But as I say, now that the discoloration is not such an issue,
I can see very clearly where the incision was made. It looks like any other
small, purplish fine line of a scar, except it's on my nose. It is almost unoticeable, except to me. I think that with time, patience, and continued use of these scar strips, it will go away, as it's very faint now.

Mary and Mary, you should both be prepared to start preventing the scarring
from the moment the stitches are taken out. Mederma, scar gel, scar strips,
whatever. But having BCC on our faces as we've had, the scarring is the biggest possible downside, I think.

It's funny, I am ALSO a runner! Except now I'm only going on the treadmill inside the gymn, or at nite after the sun has gone down. I am really trying
to avoid the sun, even with sunblock on, at least until my nose is completely
healed.

Anway, stay strong, both of you. The worst is over, and now you just have
to take good care of yourselves!

Best,

Ruth Ann

sudo59
05-20-2008, 11:01 AM
Wow, another runner! How funny.

I have been running outside, well not since my surgery, but when I do go out now I am loaded with a 70 sunblock and a hat! I want to purchase a treadmill, that's on my short list of big expenses right now.

I am going to start applying the Mederma just as soon as my stitches come out! I was looking at the incision today and it's starting to look pretty good. I do, although, still have some swelling, I guess that's just normal.

I'm so glad I found this site and other people who have gone thru this before me. It still freaks me out a bit to think that, wow, I had cancer! Nobody ever wants to hear that word, even if it is highly curable. I'm so glad the surgery is finally behind me. I would just love to help ease the mind of others that will be going thru this. As a matter of fact I even mentioned that to my Dr., I will tell him again that if he has any patients scheduled to go thru this than he can feel free to give them my number and I will be more than happy to help calm their fears.

Take care Ruth Ann and Mary,

Hope to keep chatting with both of you soon.

Mary

Mary1966
05-22-2008, 01:08 PM
Hi Mary and Ruth Ann! I got my stitches out today. Everything looks great - I'm really excited! I can't believe how much the surgery site has healed over the past week. And it's not even red at all! It is amazing what our bodies can do. Now I just have to be very diligent about applying the scar cream 3x/day and remember to wear a hat when I'm outside. I spend a lot of time outdoors and I walk to work everyday (which takes me about half an hour each way), so I also need to keep the sunscreen flowing. I think I can manage that!

Mary, have you gone back to work yet? I totally understand your not wanting to return right away. It would be difficult, seeing that you deal with the public so much. I went back to work on Monday, but my job is very low profile. It's a really fun job and I learn something new every day.

Ruth Ann - thanks so much for all your advice and wisdom! I will definitely take what you have said to heart. It's nice to have someone further along in the healing process to let us know what to expect. You are very kind to share your experience.

Okay, I'll check in again soon. Hope you guys are doing well!

Mary

sudo59
05-22-2008, 01:19 PM
Oh my, I can' t believe the simalarities. I just got done posting about getting MY stitches out too!

Mine is a little red but the Dr. said that would fade off with time.

I have not gone back to work, although I probably could have today and I know I could tomorrow but, I am blowing the day off. I'm actually using a vacation day tomorrow, going to get my hair hightlighted!

Talk to you all soon.

Let's both get that Mederma moving and see what the next few weeks have to offer us...

sudo59
05-27-2008, 05:31 AM
Hey Mary, Hey Ruth Ann,

How are you guys doing today.

Mary, you are on the same schedule I am, I still have a little swelling and the skin feels very tights and the left side of my nose feels numb. How is yours doing>

Ruth Ann, how is that scar coming along. I'm anxious to see how mine ends up a few months from now.

I am also stunned at how many people I have met that have had this and yet they STILL Sunbathe!!! Have either of you found that to be true?

Mary1966
05-30-2008, 01:33 PM
Hey Mary! It sounds like we are experiencing the same things. The surgery site is still a little numb and I have a large knob at the top of the incision. I thought the bump would go down after I got the stitches out but, nope - it's still there! There's no bruising around it and it doesn't look red (?). It's not all that painful, either. Maybe it's from the internal stitches, or that's the spot where they couldn't stop the bleeding and had to cauterize it. I don't know... I am starting to become more aware of the internal stitches now. I have that sort of pulling, tight sensation like you do. The incision itself is becoming a little more red, but not too bad. It seems like the whole site changes daily! I have been taking pictures of it everyday so I can monitor it. Hopefully it will look better in 6 months. But I guess it doesn't look all that bad right now - except for that annoying bump!!!! I wish that would go down. I've been using the Mederma 3x/day and staying out of the sun as much as possible. And yes, I agree with you - I can't understand how people who've had skin cancer can still sunbathe!!! Just plain crazy... Anyway, hope you are doing well. Keep me posted on your progress. It's great to be able to share with someone who's going through the same thing. Thanks for checking in. Have a GREAT weekend!!!!

Mary

ruth ann
05-30-2008, 03:22 PM
Hello Mary and Mary!

I'm glad to hear you're both recovering well! Yesterday marked 3 months after
my Moh's for BCC on my nose. My nose is still red, but every day less so. I started off using scar gel, but everyone said I had to put sun block over it if
I went outside, and that got a little messy. My general dr. recommended "scar
strips" which I like a lot better. It's adhesive treated with scar gel that you cut to size and wear on your scar site like a small bandaid. I am really pleased with the results, and for me, it's more convenient.

Mary66, you mentioned a bump. I have the same thing, although it's almost gone now. It's right on the incision. They told me it was scar tissue. But
maybe it's the internal stitches as you mentioned. Whatever it is, it's how I am measuring the progress of my healing. I know my scar is going away when
I can feel the bump getting smaller and smaller.

My mother had a BCC removed from her chin recently. She used the Mederma,
and you can't tell where the scar was now. My nose seems to be taking so
much longer to get back to normal. After 3 months, it's still a bit red. I think
that maybe noses have a longer healing process.

You both mentioned numbness. I have this problem also. It's much better than
before - I think nerves are damaged during the surgery - but still sometimes
it's a bit numb. It's like the circulation isn't quite there - my nose stays cold
sometimes after the rest of my body warms up. But this has become much better with time.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you're both improving! This is wonderful news!

Best,

Ruth Ann

Mary1966
02-24-2009, 08:16 PM
Hi - just checking in and giving a progress report. It has been about 9 months since I had the BCC on my temple excised. The site is looking pretty good and I have regained all the feeling in that area (it was numb for a little while because of all the nerves they had to cut through). The surgery scar is a VERY white, thin line now and it's a little bit indented but it doesn't look bad at all. I'm really happy (and surprised) with how well it's healing.
I don't remember if I mentioned in my previous posts how I actually had to have a SECOND surgery. That bump that formed after the FIRST surgery turned out in fact to be a hematoma after all - not fun! Their initial response to this was to give me a shot of cortisone to see if that could bring down the swelling. When that didn't work (after two weeks), they decided to cut the bump open to see what was inside. They found a blood clot formed around a stitch that they had failed to remove - yuck! Then they had to sew me up again. Yay - more stitches! They were much more careful removing the stitches the second time around! Anyway, about a month after that, my skin started to cave in just below the area where they had injected me with steroids. I had no idea what was going on. My doctor told me that my skin was having a reaction to the cortisone injection and the dent in my face could be permanent. Okay... what next. It could take up to a full year for the dent to fill in - if it was ever going to fill in, that is. My doctor wanted to inject the area with a dermal filler called Restylane to get rid of the dent, but I opted not to do this. First of all, I didn't want anything else injectied into my face. Secondly, I wanted to be able to monitor the dent to see if it was getting any better/worse. This was in early July. The dent continued to get worse for a while, but around the end of Septemeber I noticed it starting to get better. Thank goodness!! It has finally filled in and everything looks normal now. Word of caution - be very wary of cortisone injections in the face... I don't recommend them.
Anyway, I'm sure my surgery story isn't typical so hopefully I haven't scared anyone! The surgery part was actually pretty easy - it was just the stuff that happenend afterwards that was bad. Again - not typical. So if you're facing a BCC excision in the near future, please don't worry about it too much. Just be patient and give yourself time to heal. Things can look pretty bad for a while, but the body has amazing healing powers. And I recommend using a scar cream with a sunscreen on the surgery site as soon as possible. I use something called Mederma 2x/day and I think it has worked great. There are other creams out there that probably work just as well, though. You should ask your doctor about them.

sudo59
02-26-2009, 08:06 AM
Hey, how nice of you to check in. I have been away from the boards myself, hopefully putting the BCC all behind me.

Glad to hear you are doing well, sorry to hear you had the problems you did. I am healing nicely. As you know, I'm around 9 months into it as well, and if you were to ask a stranger where my scar is they honestly probably could not tell you. Of course I still know where it is and am still somewhat self conscious of it but if I am truly honest with myself it looks amazingly good.

Just a faint faint line and very undectable indentation, they had to go pretty deep to get mine all out. All in all, it looks pretty darn good.

Thanks for checking in.