The surgeon will remove the melanoma by cutting around it with a scalpel.
A margin of healthy skin is removed as this improves the likelihood that all of the cancer has been removed. Once the cancer is removed, the remaining skin can be gently pulled together for stitching.
This operation is sometimes done in the surgeon’s rooms or a day surgery unit.
SURGERY FOR LARGER MELANOMA
If a melanoma is large or spreading across the skin, the surgeon may need to make a bigger cut to improve the chances of removing all malignant cells. If a lot of skin must be removed, the surgeon may not be able to pull the edges of the healthy skin back together, so a skin graft or a local flap of skin may be necessary.
A skin graft involves removing a thin layer of normal skin from a healthy part of the body, such as the thigh or buttock.
This piece of skin, called a “split skin graft”, is placed over the gap created by the removal of melanoma and sutured or stapled into position.
The surgeon may use flap repair, which is the transferring of local tissue of the same texture and thickness into the defect. This method is often used for the face.
RECOVERY AFTER THE SURGERY
Depending on the type of surgery performed, you may be able to go home shortly afterwards, or you may have to stay overnight, or for a few days. Some surgery will be minor and only mildly uncomfortable.
If a large melanoma has been removed or a skin graft performed, there may be discomfort or pain. The area where healthy skin is removed for the skin graft is often more uncomfortable than the grafted area. Pain relief may be required for two to three days.