Surgery for treatment of melanoma of the skin

When you are first diagnosed with melanoma, more surgery is usually required to remove a wider margin of normal skin from the original melanoma site—a wide local excision. This increases the chance of all the melanoma cells being removed. Some people require a general anaesthetic and admission to hospital.

In most cases the wound can be closed with stitches and will heal as a straight scar.

Depending on the size or location of your melanoma, the doctor may not be able to pull the edges of the healthy skin back together. You may need a skin graft or skin flap to cover the area where your melanoma was removed.

Using a skin graft or skin flap to close a wound

A skin graft is a surgical operation where a piece of normal, healthy skin from another part of your body is taken and used to cover the area where your melanoma was removed. Sometimes, your surgeon may feel a skin flap is the best option for

closing your wound. A skin flap is a thicker layer of healthy skin and tissue that is partially connected, it is moved to cover a nearby wound. The main difference between a skin graft and a skin flap is that a skin flap needs its own blood supply to help with healing and a skin graft does not.

resize melanoma surgery skin graft


What to expect after skin-graft or skin-flap surgery

After your surgery, your wound will be covered with a dressing and left untouched for several days. It will then be checked to see if it is healing properly. You will also have dressings on any donor sites—areas

where skin was taken from. It is not unusual for a donor site to be
more painful than a grafted area.
After you have a skin graft or skin flap, the surrounding area of skin
may look different. Over time this will heal and any colour differences
will fade. There is a small risk of infection, haematoma and scarring,
following surgery. Occasionally, a skin graft or skin flap fails and needs
to be repeated.

Possible complications after surgery

It is important to see your GP or contact your surgeon as soon as possible if you have any concerns about your surgery, for example:

• fever with a temperature higher than 38°C, or chills
• increasing pain or redness
• heavy bleeding
• leaking fluid, pus or blood from your wound.


He aha ngā raruraru me matatau koe whai muri i te hāparapara tonapuku?
He mea nui te haere ki te kite i tō GP, te whakapā atu rānei ki tō mātanga mehemea he āwangawanga ōu e pā ana ki te mahi hāparapara, pērā ki ēnei:
• te kirikā me te whai pāmahana neke atu i te 38°C, te rongo i te makariri rānei
• te piki o te mamae, te whero o te kiri rānei
• te kaha rere o te toto
• te maringi o te wai tinana, te pirau, te turuturu o te toto rānei mai i tō motu.


Using other treatments such as alternative, complementary and traditional therapies

People with cancer often think about using complementary therapies, alternative therapies or traditional healing. Many people feel it gives them a greater sense of control over their illness, and that it is ‘natural’ and low risk.

For many, it is their usual cultural practice (for example rongoā). It is important to talk to your treatment team about any other therapies you are using as it may interfere with your treatment.

Early stage melanoma is most often curable with surgery alone It is important to talk to your treatment team about any alternative or traditional healing methods you are using or thinking about using, as early stage melanoma is very treatable with surgery alone.

I te nuinga o te wā, ka taea te whakaora i te tonapukuwāhanga-tōmua mā te hāparapara anake He mea nui me kōrero koe ki tō rōpū whakamaimoa e pā ana kingā huarahi whakaoranga whiringa, taketake rānei kei te whakaaro koe ki te whakamahi, i te mea he māmā noa iho te maimoa i te tonapuku wāhanga-tōmua mā te mahi hāpara anake.

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