Post-Operation Instructions

Wound care
  • Keep wound MOIST at all times. Crusting and scabbing will impede healing and may produce a more noticeable scar.
  • Keep dressing dry and intact for the first 48 hours
  • Afterward, the following daily wound care regimen is recommended
    • Wash hands with soap and water thoroughly before each dressing changes to reduce contamination
    • Remove old dressing
    • Cleanse the wound with plain water and mild soap using clean gauze or Q-tip to remove dried blood and crusting. Rinse thoroughly
    • Apply a coating of petrolatum ointment/Vaseline/Aquaphor. Keep ointment on the wound at all times until the wound is healed.
    • Most wounds may be left uncovered after five to seven days. However, wounds that are on an area of the body that becomes easily irritated should be covered with a bandage during the daytime for additional 5-7 days.
  • If you have a skin graft, keep the dressing dry and intact for 5-10 days until you are seen in clinic again. Our nursing staff will remove the dressing at that time.

Pain control- mild to moderate post-operative discomfort can be treated with extrastrength Tylenol or vicodin prescribed by your Mohs surgeon.

Drainage - Small amount of blood-tinged discharge is normal. Excessive yellow or purulent discharge could be a sign of infection.

Bruising- If your surgical area is near the eye or forehead, you may experience a black eye and swelling around the eye within 48 hours of the surgery. This is NOT a sign of active bleeding and will improve after a few days.

Active bleeding- If dressing becomes soaked with bright red blood, remove the dressing, and apply gentle but firm direct pressure to the wound for 15 minutes using a piece of clean gauze. Avoid “peeking” during this period. Check wound again and repeat procedure one more time if there is still bleeding. If the bleeding stops, clean your surgery site, apply ointment and cover with clean dressing. If bleeding continues despite 30 minutes of pressure, please call our office or the dermatology resident on call if after office hours.

Hematoma- If a large, swollen, purple area is noted around the surgery site that appears as if it may be full of blood, please call our clinic.

Infection- Signs of infection include increased pain, redness, swelling, warmth and excessive drainage of the surgical site. In some cases, you can even have fevers and chills. Please call our clinic if you experience any of these signs of infection.

Lifestyle modifications

  • Avoid strenuous physical activities such as swimming, running for at least 2 weeks after surgery
  • Reduce or stop smoking as smoking causes poor wound healing
  • Sleep with your head elevated to reduce swelling if surgical site is on the face

Dermatology Division
8899 University Center Lane, Suite 350
San Diego, CA 92122
858-657-8322