Do I Need A Bandage after Mohs Surgery?
Patients diagnosed with skin cancer often seek Mohs surgery to have their tumors treated and removed with over 99% cure rates. The Mohs procedure leaves surgical defects that often then need to be sutured closed and repaired. But when the doctor places the last stitch, the procedure isn’t necessarily over.
Covering Up The Evidence
“I’m always surprised how quickly patients try to get out of the chair after I finish operating on their skin cancer,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, board certified dermatologist and fellowship trained Mohs Micrographic Surgeon in Austin, Texas. “They never wait for us to put a bandage on.”
Dr. Mamelak understands the anxiety that often surrounds his treatments, but is quick to remind patients how crucial bandaging after Mohs surgery is for the healing process. Surgical bandages help protect the treated area, keeping it clean and preventing dirt and bacteria from entering a wound. Pressure bandages decrease oozing or bleeding form the area. But what about letting it breathe?
“It’s the biggest myth that’s still perpetuated in wound care today,” says Dr. Mamelak. A number of medical studies have proven wounds kept moist and covered heal faster, have less inflammation and allow skin and blood vessels to regenerate faster. “Still, patients always ask when they should let the air get to it.”
Exposing a wound to the air can impair healing. The dry environment actually promotes cell death. While it’s true wounds need oxygen to heal, this oxygen comes from the circulatory system and blood supply, not the environment. The air can dry out the wound bed, resulting in a scab or crust to form. These scabs interfere with cell migration and slow the wound healing process. Wounds that scab are also at higher risk of healing with a scar.
Patients want to optimize healing after Mohs surgery and minimize any scarring associated with the procedure. That’s why Dr. Mamelak always advises patients follow their surgeon’s wound care instructions carefully. Proper bandaging, adhering to the recommended post-operative activities are just a few ways patients get obtain the best results.