Melanoma Surgery

Melanoma surgery may involve either surgical excision or Moh's surgery in the attempt to remove skin cancer tumors. These cancerous tumors, or melanomas, develop as a result of the malignant transformation of melanocytes, melanin-producing cells located at the bottom layer of the epidermis. Surgical treatment aims at removing stage I or II melanoma, and presents as the best method to remove early melanomas.

Indications for Melanoma Surgery

Health professionals recommend the ABCDE method for detecting melanoma in suspicious moles; these rules are at their greatest diagnostic accuracy when used in combination:

  • Asymmetry: half the lesion does not match the other
  • Border irregularity: edges are ragged, notched, or blurred
  • Color variegation: uneven pigmentation, brown, black, white, reddish, or blue discoloration
  • Diameter: diameter greater than 6 mm, although some melanomas may have smaller diameters
  • Evolving: changes in lesion over time are characteristic

Your Melanoma Surgery with Dr. Morse

For stage I and II melanoma Dr. Morse may make a simple excision to remove the suspicious mole. Wide excisions are used to remove the cancer, some healthy tissue around it, and possibly a lymph node in the case of stage III melanoma.

With Moh's surgery, Dr. Morse makes a first-level incision to gather a tissue sample to analyze under a microscope. He then excises excises the melanoma layer by layer until only healthy tissue remains.

The anesthetic type used for your melanoma surgery depends on the size and location of the melanoma; local anesthetic is used for small, easily-reached melanomas while general anesthesia is used for larger melanomas and procedures in which skin grafts are used.

What to Expect After Surgery

Postoperative therapy varies according to the extensiveness of the melanoma surgical procedure used. Patients should expect to receive specific wound care instructions from Dr. Morse. Typically, wounds that have been repaired with absorbable stitches or skin grafts should be kept covered with a bandage for one week.

Wounds repaired with non-absorbable stitches should be covered with bandage that should be replaced daily until stitches are removed. Signs of infection should be reported to Dr. Morse immediately. During recovery, patents are asked to avoid strenuous physical activity for two weeks. Dr. Morse may also recommend follow-up visits to assist you in your recovery.

To learn more about the benefits, costs or possible side effects of melanoma surgery, contact Dr. Morse for a personal consultation.