Below are some of the most frequently asked questions. Please feel free to call our office if you need additional information.
How often do I need to get a complete body examination?
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a complete skin examination once a year by a board certified dermatologist if you do not have a history of skin cancer.
How high a SPF should I use?
- Usually the higher the SPF the better, but we recommend 30 or more. The sunscreen should also block out UVA rays as well. It is also important to reapply sunscreen throughout the day when you are outdoors in order to get its maximum protection.
What is a biopsy?
- A biopsy is only a sampling of the skin to check for abnormality. The purpose of a biopsy is not for cure, but for diagnostic purposes. If a biopsy comes back as skin cancer, additional procedures are needed to remove the skin cancer.
Are your doctors Board Certified in Dermatology?
- All of our physicians are not only Board Certified in Dermatology but have completed a one year Fellowship specifically in Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology. More detailed information about our doctors and their training can be found under “About Our Doctors”.
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What Causes Skin Cancer?
- Excessive exposure to sunlight is the single most important factor associated with the development of skin cancer. The tendency to develop these cancers appears hereditary in certain ethnic groups, especially those with fair complexions and poor tanning abilities. Fair-skinned people develop skin cancers more frequently than dark-skinned people and the more sun exposure they receive, the more likely they are to develop a skin cancer.
How many types of skin cancer are there?
- There are many types, but the most common ones are basal cell carcinoma followed by squamous cell carcinoma. Luckily, melanoma which has a greater ability to spread to other places in the body is less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Can I prevent myself from getting skin cancer?
Protection from sunlight is very important in trying to prevent skin cancers. Apply sunscreen every day. For most people, one application will last a full day, but with excessive exposure to the sun, reapplication and use of higher SPF’s and UVA blocking sunscreens may be necessary. Wide brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts are also protective. Any degree of tanning can damage the skin. Use of suntan parlors are absolutely not recommended and discouraged.
How can I tell if a mole is suspicious for melanoma?
- The ABCDE’s for recognizing a mole suspicious for a melanoma are:
- A – Asymmetry
If you draw a line down the center of a lesion and the two halves do not appear to match, it is asymmetrical; a warning sign for melanoma.
- B– Border
Borders of a melanoma tend to be uneven with edges being scalloped or notched.
- C – Color
Having a variety of colors such as blue, black or brown is another warning sign for melanoma. Colors can sometimes also become red, white or blue.
- D – Diameter
If a suspicious mole has grown larger than the diameter of an eraser on a pencil, this should be checked out by a physician.
- E- Evolving
Changing moles in size, shape, color, elevation, etc. can be another warning sign. Symptoms of bleeding, itching or crusting could also indicate a cancerous lesion.
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Why is Mohs Surgery the best way to treat skin cancers?
- Mohs surgery offers the highest cure rates available today and is considered the gold standard of treatment for skin cancers involving the head, face, neck, hands, feet and cosmetically sensitive areas.
What kind of anesthesia is used?
- All anesthesia is local and surgeries are performed in an office setting.
How long will it take?
- It takes 5 – 30 minutes to remove each layer of tissue and one to two hours to process and examine it. Most tumors require the removal of one or two layers, but since this is not known until surgery has begun, we ask patients to put aside two to six hours of time when they schedule their surgical appointment.
Should I let my wound after surgery dry out or air out?
- Absolutely not. To optimize wound healing and cosmesis, we recommend keeping the wound as moist as possible. We usually recommend applying an ample amount of Vaseline to the wound two or more times a day.
Is my wound infected?
- After surgery, whether or not stitches are placed, the wound edges will turn slightly red and the area will be swollen. This is normal. However, if the redness extends far beyond the wound or a creamy discharge is noticed or you are experiencing increasing pain in the area, please call our office to schedule a follow up appointment as soon as possible.
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What if my maintenance free dressing falls off before my scheduled visit to remove the bandage?
- Not to worry. Keep the site moist, apply Vaseline two or three times a day and keep your scheduled visit.
A few weeks after my surgery I noticed a spot that opened up?
- This could be an absorbable suture underneath the skin that is not being absorbed. This underneath suture can “spit out” of the skin after a few weeks. Please come in so that we can remove it.
Can I get another skin cancer after surgery?
- The chances of getting another skin cancer such as a basal cell carcinoma or a squamous cell carcinoma are greater after you have already had one. It can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly on sun-exposed areas.
Can I use make-up over the procedure site?
- We do not recommend make-up to be placed over broken skin. Once the site has healed completely, make-up can be used once again.
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