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Melanoma Excision in Your Teen: What to Expect at Home

Your Teen's Recovery

Excision of a melanoma is a type of surgery to remove (excise) a melanoma from the skin. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer in which abnormal skin cells grow out of control.

Your teen may have stitches until the surgical wound heals. This may cause a scar that should fade with time. How quickly the wound heals depends on its size. Most wounds take 1 to 3 weeks to heal. If a large area of skin was removed, your teen may have a skin graft, and healing may take longer.

Some soreness around the wound is normal. The doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medicine. He or she may give your teen a prescription to help if there is pain.

Your doctor may give you specific instructions on when your teen can do normal activities again, such as driving and going back to school.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your teen to recover. But each teen recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your teen get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your teen at home?

Activity

  • If your teen has stitches, check with the doctor about when your teen can do normal activities.
  • If your teen has a skin graft, your doctor will give you specific instructions.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your teen can restart his or her medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about any new medicines.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your teen a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your teen is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your teen can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Incision care

  • Your teen will have a dressing over the incision. A dressing helps it heal and protects it. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.
  • Have your teen keep the dressing intact and dry until the doctor says it's okay to get the area wet.
  • Have your teen follow the doctor's instructions about when it's okay to shower or bathe.
  • If your teen has stitches, the doctor will tell you when to come back to have them removed.
  • If your teen has a skin graft, leave the bandages on the skin graft and donor site until the doctor says you can take them off. You probably will get instructions on how to change the bandages. Follow these instructions closely.
  • If your teen has a skin graft, help him or her protect the area from being rubbed or bumped for 3 to 4 weeks.

Follow-up care is a key part of your teen's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your teen is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your teen's test results and keep a list of the medicines your teen takes.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your teen may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your teen passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your teen is short of breath.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your teen has pain that does not get better after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your teen has loose stitches, or the wound comes open.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your teen's incision.
  • Your teen can't pass stools or gas.
  • Your teen is sick to his or her stomach or can't drink fluids.
  • Your teen has signs of a blood clot in a leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness or swelling in the leg.
  • Your teen has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your teen's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter M260 in the search box to learn more about "Melanoma Excision in Your Teen: What to Expect at Home".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.