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Cancer: Skin Message Board

Cancer: Skin Board Index

Yes, I've had a wide excision, and you will be fine. Your biopsy came back abnormal mole, correct? So, this is just a protective measure, I assume? It can be a challenge to have 2 WLE's at the same time, but it's not insurmountable.

With a WLE you may or may not be under a general. I had a general anethesia, but I know other people who had a local. The surgeon will simply remove a chunk of tissue where the original mole was located. They do take a fairly large chunk, though. My melanoma was roughly 1/8" in diameter on my left knee. I've been left with a 3" scar across my knee and it seemed like it went all the way down to the bone.

After you are stitched up and awake (if you've had a general), you will most likely notice how tight the skin is over the areas where the WLE's were completed. The amount of tissue taken is quite a bit, and the surgeon will usually just pull the skin together and stitch. This leaves a very tight feeling in the area, and the surgeon will usually tell you not to stress the area by doing anything that pulls on it. But then, I've known people who have had a WLE on their shoulderblade, and they hardly knew it was there. Since my WLE was on a major joint (knee), I couldn't bend the knee for quite some time. I walked a bit stiff-legged and when I sat my left leg had to be slightly extended. Once the skin stretched, all was fine and there is no difference in flexibility now. My knee doesn't look the same as my right knee - you can tell there isn't as much "meat" there as there is on the right knee. You will probably notice this as well: where the WLE has been completed the skin may have an "indentation." This may or may not fill in later.

I know I have some slight numbness around the scar. It was much worse right after surgery, but then, the surgeon took a lot of tissue and nerves had to try to grow back together. Some didn't. I also cannot expose the scar to heat, strange as that is. When my scar is exposed to heat (such as the sun beating down through a car window, even if it's covered), it feels as though it's burning. It's much more sensitive to extremes in temperature. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I know a lot of other people who have had WLEs have said they experience the same thing. I have to be very cautious not to allow heat to penetrate to my scar or it can become unbearable.

As a personal opinion, I would have severe reservations if a surgeon told me I needed a WLE when the biopsy did not show any type of cancer present. While it's not as drastic surgery as some, it's still uncomfortable, leaves a horrible scar and some disfiguration. And the after effects (sensitivity to heat) can actually get painful. I've had abnormal moles removed (more than I care to count!), but a WLE has never been suggested for any of those and I would think long and hard before putting myself through it. I do realize that some surgeons recommend a WLE for abnormal moles, but it's a decision that some one needs to go into after a lot of consideration.

Good luck - you'll be fine. Uncomfortable for a few weeks (from the tightness of skin, I really experienced no pain from surgery), but you'll be fine. If there was no cancer discovered in the biopsy, the odds they will find anything during a WLE is extremely remote to non-existant.
EDIT- after reading Chele60's I guess mine was not a WLE- mine was just a regular mole removal- they were big moles and I had a lot of stitches, but it wasn't called a WLE. I agree with Chele that you may want to ask around about having a WLE done if the moles didn't show any cancer. Maybe ask your Dr why you are having a WLE done as opposed to just removing the entire mole.

I had 2 atypical moles removed from my back. She just gave me Novocain or local anesthesia I guess. Honestly it wasn't bad at all. I have 1" scars now that are pretty faded (since this was done 3 years ago). It didn't take long either- maybe 10 minutes per mole (if that). It hurt a little in the days after once the Novocain wore off and showering was a pain b/c I wasn't supposed to get them wet.

Honestly, don't be scared at all, it isn't bad.
I'm glad to hear you came through the procedures with seemingly flying colors! It is a weird sensation to have the skin so tight, isn't? That will loosen up with time - the skin is a fascinating organ.

The difference between melanoma and dysplastic moles is kind of simple, really. A dysplastic mole (or nevi) is basically a mole that is abnormal for some reason, however there is no evidence of melanoma. It could be shape, color, or the fact it is changing that makes a dysplastic nevi "abnormal." I've had a couple of these and had them removed via biopsy. I have a LOT of moles, and they are constantly growing/changing (happens more frequently since I've had my melanoma). I never really give them much thought. A dysplastic nevi may or may not eventually become cancerous. You could have a dysplastic nevi your entire life and it will never become cancer. On the other hand, an abnormally shaped mole, or one that is extremely dark in color, or is overly large is more likley to become cancerous than a "normal" mole.

Now, different doctors have different ideas on how to approach dysplastic nevi. Some will caution the patient to watch the area and note any changes. Other doctors will take a biopsy and see what comes back. (Plus, the dysplastic nevi is then removed) Still other doctors will suggest biopsy and WLE. It's up to the patient to know what they want to do. It's a personal decision for that person.

Now, melanoma is cancer. The melatonin (pigmentation cells in the body) have become cancerous and start growing. Melanoma can look very similar to a dysplastic nevi, in that it is large, misshappened, very dark in color. Melanoma can also become itchy and bleed. And yet, melanoma can look like any other mole on your body. Mine never really "looked" like melanoma, and yet I had 3 moles that were excellent candidates for melanoma, and it turned out they were simply moles.

Basically, dysplastic nevi is a mole that MAY or MAY NOT become cancerous, but there is no presence of cancer now. A melanoma IS cancer. What the great majority of people would be surprised to learn is that almost everyone has at least one dysplastic nevi somewhere on their body. They are that common.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion. I know when doctors use different terms, it can leave more in a fog than when you first asked! Good luck, and it seems you will be just fine!

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