Warning: This is not a quilting post and graphic pics are included.
I’ve been going to the dermatologist (Pinnacle Dermatology in Decatur, IL) for an annual skin check for a couple of years now. I’ve had several plaque type spots called actinic keratosis removed by cryotherapy (frozen) in the last two years. These are precancerous lesions and are usually a direct result of sun damage.
This pic is of one that was removed from my cheek last July. It does leave a spot where the pigmentation is different. I’m hopeful that will fade over time, but it can be masked with makeup.
Now, notice my nose in the above pic. At the time this was taken in July, 2019, there was no spot on the side of my nose. Fast forward to September, 2019 and this spot had sprung up on my nose.
I didn’t worry too much about it and thought I’d wait till my next annual checkup to have it checked out.
Over the winter, it slowly grew more noticeable. Enough that my husband said I should have it checked out.
I made an appointment and the dermatologist took a biopsy of it. This is what it looked like immediately after the biopsy.
The dermatologist said she suspected it was a basal cell carcinoma. That type of skin cancer is common and the least dangerous of all skin cancers as it rarely spreads.
Sure enough, my results came back in a week and they were positive for basal cell carcinoma. I got the call on a Tuesday and on Thursday, February 18 I was scheduled for a procedure called Mohs surgery. This type of surgery is reserved for high risk cancers, such as any found on the face. They take small slices of the lesion, then bandage you up while they check the specimen under a microscope. If they find cancer around the margins, then they take slices only in the quadrant the cancer was present, resulting in less tissue removed.
I arrived at 8:15 and a short time later I was numbed on my nose (yes, that hurts ). Then the surgeon circled the area to remove (7mm x 7mm) and sliced off a round piece of tissue. The following pic shows what that looks like. (Warning, not for the faint of stomach.)
They bandaged it up and I then waited for an hour while they examined it for cancer. You don’t have to wait in the waiting room, you can go home or run errands. My husband and I ran an errand. 😆
When I was called back to the room, I was told they’d not need to remove any more. Thank goodness. I was worried about that. So, I immediately met with a plastic surgeon. He gave me three options.
- Do nothing and let it heal naturally.
- Place a skin graft from an area next to my ear .
- A rotational flap
The 1st option wasn’t an option for me. The skin graft would likely result in a mismatch of pigmentation and texture. The rotational flap required him to cut my skin along my nose and was the more complicated option. I chose to do a rotational flap. I felt it would result in the least noticeable scar (evenually).
The following pic shows where he marked the path he would cut along my nose.
The next picture shows what it looks like once he was done slicing and sewing.
I was warned I’d have a black eye, likely both. And that there would be swelling. The stitches come out March 2. It will take several months for the scar to lessen in appearance.
I’ll update this along the way.
Stitches came out today (6th day). I called the office because I was still getting drainage and blood from the wound. So, they had me come in early and wound up removing the stitches.
It turns out, I have a complication called dehiscence. That’s where the wound separates from the stitch line. You can see that separation where the wound is yellow. The plastic surgeon, Dino Mendez, wants to see me in his main office in Joliet next Tuesday. He called me personally from his office and discussed what was happening. I believe we will be letting it heal from the inside out. I’ll have to continue to bandage it, along with lots of Vaseline, for a few weeks I think. I’ll know more next week.
I had an appointment 12 days post-op. I traveled 3 hours to his office in Joliet as he wasn’t going to be in Decatur for another month. It turns out that yellow tissue was all dead tissue. He had to remove all of it. It didn’t hurt because it was dead. 😔
The resulting hole went further than the original wound. He said it went all the way to my nose cartilage. I am to wash it with soapy water each day and change the bandage 3 times a day. And I’m to fill the entire hole with Vaseline. And I think this routine will continue for two months!
Beware. This pic is not pretty.
Everyone, make sure you get those suspicious spots looked at promptly!