Skin Cancer Home > Skin Cancer Surgery

Cryosurgery
Cryosurgery is often used for people who are not able to have other types of surgery. This procedure uses extreme cold to treat early-stage or very thin skin cancer. Liquid nitrogen creates the cold, which the doctor applies directly to the skin growth. This treatment may cause swelling and may also damage nerves, which can cause a loss of feeling in the damaged area.
 
Laser Surgery for Skin Cancer
Laser surgery uses a narrow beam of light to remove or destroy cancer cells. This procedure is most often used for growths that are on the outer layer of skin.
 
Dermabrasion
Dermabrasion is the removal of the top layer of skin using a rotating wheel or small particles to rub away skin cells.
 
Grafts
Grafts are sometimes needed to close an opening in the skin left by a surgery for skin cancer. The surgeon will first numb and then remove a patch of healthy skin from another part of the body, such as the upper thigh. The patch is then used to cover the area where cancer was removed. If you have a skin graft, you may have to take special care of the area until it heals.
 

Recovering From Skin Cancer Surgery

The time it takes to heal after skin cancer surgery is different for each person, and you may be uncomfortable for the first few days. However, medicine can usually control the pain. Before surgery, you should discuss the plan for pain relief with your doctor or nurse. Afterwards, your doctor can adjust the plan if you need more pain relief.
 
Surgery for skin cancer nearly always leaves some type of scar. The size and color will depend on the size of the cancer, the type of surgery, and how your skin heals.
 
For any type of procedure, including skin grafts or reconstructive surgery, it is important to follow your doctor's advice on bathing, shaving, exercise, or other activities.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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