Patients should always receive education about the potential risks associated with surgery of the skin when scheduling a surgical procedure at their dermatologist’s office. This includes reviewing any instructions for how to limit these risks such as appropriate pre and post-operative behaviors. A qualified dermatologist always provides a consent form and takes patients through a full medical history to identify factors such as diseases or medications that may elevate these risks.
However, it is beneficial for patients to already have a basic understanding of the most commonly occurring complications before this pre-surgical interview. These individuals may be more likely remember to mention all pertinent medical history data during their consultation. Knowing well in advance about potential issues may also reduce anxiety for patients who feel more in control when they have plenty of time to digest important information.
Each procedure carries its own set of specific complications; but there are some risks that are inherent in any surgery of the skin. Here are just a few:
This is one of the most commonly experienced side effects. It can be serious in itself and also has the potential to interfere with the operation. The surgeon needs to be able to focus on performing a procedure without having the surgical site obscured by blood. If bleeding continues after the wound is closed, this can accumulate in the form of a hematoma and create problems with proper healing. When a hematoma forms, the surgical site must be reopened so the blood can be drained. Appropriate application of pressure dressings after surgery can help minimize the risk of excessive bleeding. Ice packs can also be used to reduce the seepage of blood into delicate facial skin tissues.
Patients who are taking blood thinning medications (even aspirin) are at increased risk for acute bleeding. This is one reason a patient’s dermatological surgeon and primary care doctor need to communicate to ensure the best outcome. It is often necessary to stop taking blood pressure medications for a period of time prior to the surgery – but this should be done according to instructions.
Tendons and nerves may be severed during surgery of the skin. The best way to prevent this type of problem is by choosing a dermatological surgeon with a high level of skill and experience. If an accident does occur, a specialist must usually be called in to repair it. Sometimes, the damage is not reversible.
Life threatening infections are rare in dermatological surgery patients. However, every wound should be carefully watched for signs of even minor infection. Patients may be advised not to shave the site for a couple of days before the operation to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Antibiotics are generally prescribed to further limit this risk. Patients should inform their dermatologist in advance of any allergies to antibiotics (such as penicillin) to prevent an adverse reaction to this medication.