GETTING THE DIAGNOSIS OF SKIN CANCER - NOW WHAT?
Growing up, we never worried about the effects of what too much sun exposure can do. The only thing we worried about was getting outside during peak sun to to get the best tan we could. The highest SPF we had was an 8 and most of the time we didn’t use it because we didn’t want to block out any chance of getting a better than. We spent hours in the sun rubbing baby oil and iodine all over ourselves; and don’t get me started on how we thought reflectors would help give us that golden tan. It wasn’t until my dad was diagnosed with skin cancer, ironically at the the age I am now, that I really started thinking about the damage I was probably doing to my skin. It was only then I thought maybe I should be more careful about putting on sunscreen. I really thought I was doing well by staying out of the sun and only going to tanning beds when an “event” called for it. I grew even more complacent seeing that my dad would get his cancer cut out or burnt off and it never really went beyond that.
When I was about 37 years old, I had my first precancerous spot burned off of my forehead and didn’t give skin cancer another thought until last year when I had a question about a couple of spots on my body, both of which checked out fine. It was shortly after this appointment what appeared to be a sebaceous hyperplasia literally appeared right under the right side of my nose. I figured this was what it was because one of the spots on my face I had questioned turned out to be just that. Sebaceous hyperplasia is when a sebaceous gland on the skin is enlarged. They are skin colored and rarely bleed or crust, which mine didn’t do. I did think it was odd that it came out so quickly. It wasn’t until I had Lauren and Carol take a look at it after a facial that Lauren concerned me when she said the top didn’t appear smooth. She encouraged me to go to a dermatologist to have it biopsied, as she herself had squamous cell carcinoma a couple of years ago. Like anyone would, I hesitated and put it off. It wasn’t until I realized that if this was skin cancer I needed to get it taken care of, as my son is getting married in September. After researching, I resolved myself that this was cancer and headed to the dermatologist with hopes of good news, but armed with information if it wasn’t.
The biopsy did come back as basal cell carcinoma and after talking to my dermatologist, she said my best bet was to have Mohs surgery since it was under my nose and in a tricky spot. Mohs surgery is done in a progressive manner and is usually done on an outpatient basis. They start by taking thin layers of the cancerous skin and biopsy the layer to see how much more skin they need to take. This is done to preserve the good tissue surrounding the bad and not take more than they need to. The hardest part of this process was waiting for the biopsy results. The first pass showed they needed to take another layer deeper and wider. I was lucky that they only had to do two passes to remove the cancer before they could perform the revision flap to cover the excised area and recreate a new nasolabial fold. The revision only took an hour and I was able to go home right after. My only restriction was that I couldn’t exercise for two weeks and I had to keep it covered in Aquaphor and a bandage. A week after the surgery my stitches were removed and I was able to wear makeup.
It has now been eight weeks since surgery and I am extremely impressed with the healing of my revision. I still have tightness and numbness, which is to be expected any time nerves have been cut, but I see improvement every day. I was given the go ahead to start scar massage and next month Carol will take over and we will start microneedling with PRP and BBL to help get rid of the scar and will update you on this process. Meanwhile, I will be applying sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen.