How Do I Know If I Have An Infection After Mohs Surgery?

Mohs Micrographic Surgery is used for the treatment various types of skin cancer. It does this by removing as little tissue as possible, while still ridding the skin of the cancerous tissue. This is a very accurate and minimally invasive  approach to treating your skin cancer. But as with all surgeries, there is always a possibility of complications after your procedure.

pain“Classically, wound infections after surgery occur on or around the third post-operative day,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs micrographic surgeon in Austin, Texas. It is always normal to have some pain and swelling after your procedure, but in excess, this can be a sign of an underlying infection.

Wound infections often appear as increased redness, swelling and pain associated with the surgical site. “Patients can also feel unwell, or even feverish if the infection is severe,” explains Dr. Mamelak. “In certain circumstances, the wound can re-open even with the stitches in place, or there may be pus, discharge or even a bad smell associated with the wound.”

An infection in the wound area can be signified by pain that persists beyond 2-3 days post-treatment or a fever. “As mentioned, it is possible for patients to experience a bit of tenderness in the treated area, but it should not persist for any longer than a few days.” Any extensive amount of pain or discoloration in the treatment area should be reason to follow up with your surgeon. Taking these proactive steps into discovering what is causing discomfort can save you from experiencing an infection after surgery.

Wound infections have been a recognized complication of surgery throughout the ages. “Robor, calor, tumor and dolor are the classic Latin descriptions of the signs of inflammation. They are literally translated to mean redness, heat, swelling and pain,” says Dr. Mamelak. “It is amazing how even back in the 1st century physicians understood when a wound was not right.”

The good news is, wound infections after Mohs surgery are extremely rare. In fact, studies show that the rates of wound infection are as low as 1-2% of all skin surgeries. Care after treatment can be exceedingly crucial, especially with larger or more sensitive areas being treated for skin cancer. Following your surgeons aftercare instructions is important to prevent infection from occurring.  “For example, I tell my patients to avoid lakes, swimming pools and jacuzzis after surgery, as these can contain bacteria that could raise the chances of experiencing an infection post-Mohs surgery.” In certain instances, your physician might also recommend taking an antibiotic in the post operative period to further prevent any problems.

“I tend to have patients come in about one to two weeks after their surgery. This is to ensure that the wound is healing properly, as well as to remove any necessary stitches,” Dr. Mamelak adds.

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At Sanova Dermatology, we make the safety and care of our patients our goal. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your Mohs Surgery or appointment, please contact us to ensure that you are taken care of and healthy.

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