Basal Cell Carcinoma Excision - What Can You Expect?
If your doctor has diagnosed that suspicious little lump under your skin as Basal Cell Carcinoma, you may be facing a simple surgical procedure to get rid of that pesky bump that will scab and bleed, but just won't go away.
First of all, congratulations for getting it looked at by a doctor. Most of us know that a sore that doesn't heal or a bump that doesn't go away, should have a professional medical evaluation.
I knew I should have it examined, but like many others do, I put it off thinking it would eventually go away.
I Tried All Kinds of Remedies
Like me, you may have tried antibiotic ointment, aloe vera, vitamin e oil, tea tree oil, and all of the usual home remedies, but if you see no improvement it's time to seek a doctor's opinion.
Most of us wait longer than we should. I did, even when It was scabbing, bleeding, seeming to heal, and then going through the cycle again.
Yes, "carcinoma" does mean cancer but the good news is -- as some doctors will tell you-- a Basal Cell Carcinoma is "the best kind of cancer you can have" because it rarely spreads to other areas and organs.
The worst things about BC are that they do tend to keep growing. They can cause some disfigurement and topical medicines or other non- surgical procedures are rarely effective.
Most skin cancers are caused by DNA mutations in skin cells as a result of exposure to UV sunlight.
The sun exposure you experienced many years ago can be the source of the damage which eventually causes the cells to multiply uncontrollably.
The "Scarface" Photo Shows The Day After Surgery
Yes, it's me with a scar I should have had a year ago. If I had gone to the doctor earlier it would have been smaller.
No, I haven't been dueling Mensur style at a German university, and it's not the result of a botched face lift.
I finally had a brief doctor's-office surgery that removed a skin cancer above my upper lip on the right side.
The little bump, a Basal Cell Carcinoma is now gone.
The nurse bandaged my wound with a big lump of gauze and strips of tape that reached over the bridge of my nose to under my chin, which kind of made me look like Bert Lahr in his makeup as the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.
Six sutures, a swollen lip, some minor pain and a bit of a headache were all I had the day after the excision.
With the dressings removed it looked like I had half of a Fu Manchu mustache. The swollen lip gave me the unintended expression of a condescending sneer.
Both of these effects were short-lived.
Basal Cell Excision: Warning! Blood is involved.
I had previously been diagnosed by the physician's assistant, so when the dermatological surgeon walked into the room on the day of my appointment it was the first time I had seen him.
The fleeting thought passed through my mind: "Why am I going to let a complete stranger, whom I have never seen before, cut my face open?"
On the other hand, he seemed calm and confident. More importantly, I knew he was a certified surgeon, and personally knew someone who had been through a similar procedure done by him.
If you need to have this done, especially if it is in a sensitive place, you will probably want to use a skin specialist.
The video accompanying this article, looks a lot like what happened to me. If you are sensitive about blood it may be a little too gory for you, but If you want a good picture of what will happen it might also reassure you.
One difference between the video and my surgery is that mine was near my mouth, so I was unable to talk and ask questions like the person making the film. Actually, I would prefer that my doctor be fully focused on the task at hand, rather than having a conversation.
Though my doctor wasn't talkative, he did warn me when he was doing something different. He prepped the area with antiseptic then used a marker to locate the lesion
I could see from the video that the pain numbing injection did raise quite a bump under the skin. I could feel those effects. It did sting a little at first, then created a light burning sensation as I had been warned. It felt like a marble had been inserted under the skin at the site of the surgery but soon it all was numb.
About halfway through the doctor told me that he was doing a little cauterizing, which I assume was to staunch the blood flow a bit. It smelled like barbeque.
It was not really too uncomfortable. There was no pain with the cutting, cauterizing and stitching. The procedure was finished in about 15 minutes.
If you are self-conscious about your scar...
Exactly a week later, a nurse removed the stitches and covered the area with little pieces of tape. She said to ignore the tape, shower with it, and let it come of naturally.
Tests on the removed tissue had confirmed that the lesion had indeed been a Basal Cell Carcinoma and "all the borders were clear", indicating that it had been completely removed and had not spread into surrounding areas.
Actually, the tape did not stick well at all. This was probably because there were still some traces of the antiseptic ointment I had been using on the wound.
As far as I could see it was well healed though a little swelling remained and there were a few tiny dots where the sutures were removed.
Because the doctor had made the incision close to my natural "expression lines", it was barely noticeable. Two weeks later-- there was no mark to suggest that anything had been cut.
I had been prepared for a worse outcome, so all is well. No scar, no pain, and the bump is gone.
Today about 18 months after this procedure, I had another excision of a similar cell. It was but located close to the site of the original one. I recognized it early and didn't put of having it checked out like I did the first one.
I really didn't want to do this again but I think doing it sooner was better than putting it off for a year, as I did before.
This one was lower and closer to my lip. The procedure was quicker and required only three stitches. It felt better than my first one did on the first day.
Yes, as I expected, earlier is better in all ways. It was much faster healing, and all seems well now, more than a year after my second surgery.
What is that spot on my skin?
Name of Condition
Symptoms and Dangers
Treatment and Prognosis
Pre-cancerous condition of rough scaly skin which may develop into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated..
Topical medications may be sufficient. Liquid nitrogen is often used to destroy the lesions.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Can look like red patches, open sores or shiny bumps. A Cancer which can continue to grow, but almost never spreads to another site
Depending upon size, location and other factors it can be treated in several different ways. Simple excision is often most effective.
Dysplastic Nevi or Atypical Moles
Dark spots that may be irregularly shaped can indicate an increased risk of Melanoma
Need to be examined by a medical professional to determine risk.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Can become disfiguring if left untreated.
Generally treated by excision.
Is the rarest and potentially most deadly of all skin cancers.
Curable when treated early. Prevention or early detection is vital to prevent invasive spreading
Where Did it Come from? Why Isn't it Going Away?
Basal Cell Carcinoma is usually treated by a simple surgical incision. Sometimes a topical medication or a spray of liquid nitrogen is used on small pre-cancerous spots.
If you have a suspicious spot that won't go away don't ignore it and give it a chance to do some serious harm. It should be checked.
Even the worst types of skin cancers can be successfully treated. Sooner is better than later.
Most of these lesions are a result of damage from sunlight and UV rays. Often the damage at a cellular level has happened many years before.
That series of sunburns you got when you were quite young, may produce unwanted results years, even decades, later.
Wear a hat. Use sunscreen. Don't ignore the persistent spot.