PSA: Get that skin spot checked out!

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.

Taken immediately after leaving the dermatologist office.

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.

Taken in February, 2021, it had grown to 6mm in diameter.

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.)

Fascinating in a gross way.

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.

Scary anticipation

The next picture shows what it looks like once he was done slicing and sewing.

It gets scarier.

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.

The day after. Some swelling, but pain is much better managed.
Two days after. Both eyes and nose is swollen. One starting to turn colors. Pain has lessened, but still alternating Tylenol and ibuprofen.
3rd day after. Swelling is starting to go down. Still some bleeding, and due to the need to wear glasses, I have to bandage it.

I’ll update this along the way.

4th day
5th day. Take note of the color of the lower part of the scar.
6th day

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.

7th day. You can really tell where it separated in this pic. The top part is healing nicely though.
11 days post-surgery. Starting to slowly heal on the section that separated from the sutures. The top part of the wound looks great.

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.

12 days post-op and after dead tissue was removed.
20 days post op ( 8 days after removal of dead tissue). It’s healing and filling in nicely.
3 1/2 weeks post-op and 2 weeks post tissue removal. It’s healing very nicely! It’s really amazing how fast it is healing. 2 more weeks of twice daily bandaging with Vaseline. I’ll see the doctor in person then and hopefully will be able to ditch the bandage. I’ve progressed to a regular bandage instead of gauze and tape.
Progress in the bandage area. (Since I work from home now, I seldom put any makeup on.)

Everyone, make sure you get those suspicious spots looked at promptly!

7 responses to “PSA: Get that skin spot checked out!

  1. It seems everyone is being diagnosed with skin cancerous items and Mohs. My step dad (he’s older) and had to have it done on his cheek. It was all gotten, and then my husband a month later, he’s bald and had a spot on his head. A big scoop out of Mohs. They got it all, but his scalp took a long time to heal. And then two people in our family, found lumps in their breasts! What the Heck 2020!!!! COVID, wasn’t enough – we had to throw in some cancer.

    Anyway, glad you had that done and didn’t ignore it. Feel free to stop over at my blog and say “HI” – I love meeting other bloggers from around the globe. I’m in Central Oregon.

  2. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’ve had several spots frozen off on my face and arm. Thankfully they didn’t come back. My husband however, has pre cancer and basil cell cancer on his face and head that keeps coming back. He’s had 3 chemical peels, Mohs surgery, frozen, burned, sliced, you name it, over the past 15 years. They say he will always be chasing this. Goes to dermatologist every 6 months for routine checks and more often when he finds something. Recently he had to go back just 3 weeks last, it grew so fast.

  3. I had one on my upper cheek a couple of years ago. Looked like a simple but was squamous cell carcinoma. I looked like I was on the losing end of a bar fight for a while. My eye swelled shot and my glasses didn’t fit right for a week or so. I’m sure glad I asked to have it checked.

  4. I sure hope you are doing well Joy. I had two spots on my nose two years ago. One right where your glasses sit and one next to my nostri. I had the biopsies and they were basal cell. I was then sent to a plastic surgeon and he removed it from my nose and sewed me up beautifully. I had no Mohs. I also had one on. Y upper chest and he took care of that too. I can’t see the scars at all. But I do have a dent on my nose. Better a dent than cancer. Keep checking those spots. They can sneak up on you. I’m fair skinned and freckled so I have had my share of basal cell and squamous cell carcenoma. Remember sunning with baby oil? Yikes. Xoxo

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