I had Mohs surgery on my chin about 3 weeks ago, the steri strips are just beginning to come off. I was advised to apply sunscreen when the wound was "completely healed," and I'm not sure what the definition of that would be. The scar feels a bit sensitive. I would like to know what to do next --apply sunscreen, lotion, etc, but don't want to cause damage or irritation. Thanks!
Mohs Scar Treatment 3 Weeks Post Op- When Do I Know I've Healed Enough to Use Sunscreen?
Doctor Answers (5)
Sunscreen important following surgery
Once all of the sutures are out and you do not have an open wound, then it is time to start using sunscreen. By three weeks under most circumstances it would be OK to start. Always check with your doctor first.
When Can I Use Sunscreen After Mohs?
This is a great question! Since you have had one skin cancer already, it is really important to wear sunscreen every morning like moisturizer to your face, neck, ears, chest and hands. As far as the Mohs incision site, once there is no open areas, you are fine to use scar gel and sunscreen. Since you are three weeks out and the steri stips are falling off, most likely you have no open areas and are ready for daily use of sunscreen. I recommend using a physical sunscreen containing zinc or titanium of at least a SPF45 or above daily and to repeat every two hours if you are outdoors.
If it's completely reepithelialized, you can apply sunscreen. That usually occurs within the first week if the wound was suture. At that point you can use sunscreen on the incision site or another product to improve final scarring. Silicone gel sheets can help improve the final result, but they're sometimes difficult to use. Other options in a silicone gel such as Kelacot or combination silicone gel and sunscreen such as Biocorneum. Talk to your surgeon about what the best options are for you.
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Sunscreen After Mohs Surgery
One of my top recommendations to patients who have undergone Mohs surgery for skin cancer is to make sure they apply sunscreen everyday. Regardless of whether you're planning on spending the day outside, or simply walking from your front porch to the car, wearing sunscreen is one of the absolute best preventative measures you can do. I often recommend people start putting sunscreen on all exposed areas (usually face, neck and back of the hands) immediately after surgery.
For the surgical wound itself, I give patients specific instructions that usually include covering the area with a bandage. During this time, sunscreen is not generally necessary, especially if the wound is kept covered. After stitches are removed and the bandage comes off (usually about 1 week after surgery), I recommend starting the use sunscreen over the wound itself.
Surgical wounds and scars can darken in the sun. Therefore applying sunscreen to this area will help reduce how noticeable your scar will ultimately be.
Sunscreen and surgery
I tell patients to use sunscreen every day, so I'm unsure why your physician only said to put it on after the site was healed and only in that spot? I am concerned. Sunscreen needs to be used every single day, and on the full face and any exposed areas, especially by people who have already had skin cancer and needed Mohs! If you the wound is closed (which, after 3 weeks there is no doubt) apply sunscreen liberally. The scar is new, pink skin and more prone to burning and sun sensitivity. The "sensitivity" of it does not matter. You need to be using sunscreen on the full face, every day, especially on the Mohs site.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.