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Melanoma Excision: Before Your Teen's Surgery

What is excision of a melanoma?

Excision of a melanoma is a type of surgery to remove, or excise, a melanoma from your teen's skin. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer in which abnormal skin cells grow out of control. Sometimes the surgery is simple. But some melanomas need more extensive surgery.

The doctor first gives your teen medicine to numb the area. Then the doctor cuts out the melanoma along with an area of healthy skin around it. How much skin is needed depends on how deep in the skin the melanoma is. Small excisions are usually closed with stitches. Some excisions, such as on the hands or face, may be closed with a skin flap using nearby skin.

A larger excision may need a skin graft to close the wound. For a skin graft, a section of healthy skin is taken from another part of the body. Then the healthy skin is used to replace the skin that was removed.

The surgery usually takes up to an hour. Your teen will probably go home soon afterward. There may be a scar. The scar should fade with time.

If your teen has a skin graft or more extensive surgery, the surgery may take longer. Your teen may be able to go home the same day. But your teen may need to stay in the hospital overnight or longer.

Your teen may need other tests and treatments. It depends on how large or deep the melanoma is.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful for your teen and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your teen's surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • If your teen is having a skin lesion removed in a hospital or surgery centre, make sure you have someone to drive your teen home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for your teen to drive.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines, and natural health products your teen takes. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines your teen should take or stop before surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the doctor's instructions about when your teen should bathe or shower before the surgery. Your teen should not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Make sure your teen takes off all jewellery and piercings.
  • Your teen should not shave the surgical site before the surgery.
  • Do not let your teen wear contact lenses. Bring your teen's glasses or contact lens case.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare your teen for surgery.
  • Your teen becomes ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about your teen having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

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