Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery Post-Operative Instructions

For the next 24 hours:

Rest, minimal activity allowed.

Resume a regular diet, but avoid sour or spicy foods. Advance diet slowly. Start with clear liquids.

Cold compresses applied to the area affected or allowed for 10 minutes every couple of hours.

You may have a postoperative drain, and emptying the drain 2-3 times a day is required. Record the output.

Do not shower. You may shower 48 hours after drains and dressings have been removed.

Expect some drainage from the wound site, reinforced dressing was as needed. If this becomes excessive, report this to the physician.

Take postoperative medications as prescribed.

There may be an external dressing which will be removed from 24 hours after surgery.

For exposed incisions, apply bacitracin ointment as prescribed.

For incision covered with Steri-strips (colored tape), do not remove these, they will fall off in 7 days. No bacitracin needs to be applied.

Arrange for a responsible adult to remain with you for 24 hours.


Rest for the first 24 hours.

No exercise for 2 weeks.

No lifting more than 25 pounds for one week.


Resume regular diet.

Expect some drooling if there is weakness of the lower lip.

Diet may be restricted is oral surgery has been performed at the same time

Special instructions:

Followup in 7-10 days to review the pathology results. Additionally, plan follow up with your dermatologist in 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Expect some swelling and pain for the first 48 hours after surgery.

Excessive swelling may indicate a hematoma or seroma, and if this becomes prominent, contact your physician. . Likely Dr. Kelsch may have instructed you to wear a pressure dressing which is designed to prevent a hematoma. Please wear as instructed.

You may note some coloration changes in the skin after surgery. If the skin becomes excessively dark or black, please contact the physician.

Expect mild hoarseness or dysphagia after intubation. If this is severe, contact your physician.

Do not drive or operate machinery

Do not consume alcohol

Avoid making critical legal decisions

Contact your physician for fever greater than 101°F, pain not relieved by medications, persistent nausea or vomiting, inability to urinate, or excessive bleeding.

Contact 911 for shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of vision, double vision or loss of consciousness.

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