Preparation for Surgery

How long will my appointment  last?
The length of your surgery depends on the size and extent of your skin cancer. Generally, your visit takes between 2 to 4 hours. Occasionally, surgery is more lengthy, so we ask that you come prepared to spend the day with us. Much of your time will be spent waiting for your tissue to be processed in the lab. Bring reading material and what ever else will help keep you comfortable while you are with us. In office WiFi is available.

Will I be sedated or put to sleep for surgery?
No. The surgery is performed with local anesthesia, similar to how a dentist might numb a tooth. Because the surgery may take several hours, the dangers of prolonged general anesthesia is avoided. If you feel that you need a mild medication to relax you for your surgery, that may be provided for you in advance of your procedure. Please contact our office for further information.

Will I need any special medications before surgery?
In many cases, if you have had a joint replacement or artificial heart valve placement, you may need to take antibiotics one hour prior to your surgery, similar to what your dentist may prescribe before you have your teeth cleaned. If you require this medication, please call our office so that we may have your medication available for you before your scheduled appointment. In some cases, if your surgery is more extensive or in an area that is prone to infection, antibiotics may be prescribed for you after your procedure.

Can I eat before my appointment?
Yes. Unless specifically told otherwise, you may eat a normal meal prior to surgery. You may also bring snacks, as you may be in the office for several hours. Small snacks and beverages are available for you as well.

Do I need someone to come with me?
It is advisable to have a companion with you or to drop you off and pick you up.  However, in some cases, it may not be necessary. Often surgery on the face can lead to temporary swelling around the eyes, making it difficult to see. Additionally, a 48-hour pressure dressing will be placed over the surgical site, which can sometimes make wearing glasses awkward or difficult. Out of concern for your safety, we recommend that you bring a driver with you or make arrangements for someone to pick you up.

Should I take my medications before I come to my appointment?
Yes. Take all your regular medications as they have been prescribed by your doctor, unless we specifically tell you otherwise.

What if I take a prescription blood thinner like Warfarin, Plavix, Pradaxa, Eliquis or others?
Do NOT stop these very important medications.  If you take Warfarin, please have your routine INR blood test approximately 2-3 days before your visit and send or call our office with your results.

What if I take a daily aspirin regimen?
Some patients are prescribed a daily aspirin regimen because they have had a heart attack, stroke, mini-stroke, blood clot or other condition requiring a blood thinner. In this scenario, your aspirin regimen should NOT be stopped prior to surgery. If you take a daily baby aspirin ONLY as a preventative practice, you should stop taking your daily aspirin 10 days prior to your surgical appointment.

Will I have stitches in my skin?
Most, but not all wounds, require stitches for optimal healing. Dr. Collins’ goal is to give you the best cosmetic and functional result possible. Some wounds require more involved procedures such as a flap or graft. Other defects will do better if left to heal on their own. Dr. Collins will recommend the best option for your particular case following removal of the tumor.

Will my activity be limited after my surgery?
Yes. Physical activity, including exercise, sports or strenuous activity, are very often restricted following the surgery. If your job requires heavy lifting or physical exertion, you may need to plan to be off for a few days. Dr. Collins will give you specific instructions at the time of your surgery. Rest is always best for healing.

Will I have pain during the procedure or after my surgery?Most people have surprisingly little pain after the surgery. Typically, the first 24-hours are the most uncomfortable. Extra strength Tylenol is a good first choice to relieve discomfort. If you require additional pain relief, you may combine the Tylenol with a medication like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, or Ibuprofen. It is exceedingly rare that patients require prescription pain relievers or narcotic medications after surgery and they are rarely prescribed.

Will I have a scar?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “scarless” surgery. However, Dr. Collins is trained in facial reconstruction and her goal is to make your scar as inconspicuous as possible. The size of your skin cancer often determines the size, length and extent of the scarring. The final scar also depends on the amount of post-operative rest you get and how well you adhere to our wound care instructions.