During my visit to the dermatologist I pointed out...
during my visit to the dermatologist I pointed out a red spot on my nose that seemed to scab over easily, but never quite heal. The derm told me it was a squamous cell carcinoma, the kind caused by sun damage. While squamous cell cancer won't usually kill you, if left untreated it does spread, and it can create big ugly areas.
It could have eaten away my entire nose. I saw some photos of that. I decided it was best to have it removed when it was new and small.
I went to a skin cancer specialist in Moh's surgery. Moh's surgery is a subspecialty of dermatology, and not everyone does it. But I wanted it, because the alternative was to be disfigured.
My skin lesion was on my nose, so I didn't want somebody cutting a big piece off it. Mohs sounded like the perfect solution, because it's done with local anaesthesia, and the surgeon removes the skin layer by layer, or slice by slice, sending each slice to be biopsied while you are still in the office and numbed. You stay until a layer comes back clean. So they only take off exactly what's necessary to "get' the cancer. It's a cure about 98% of the time.
And then you are sent to a cosmetic surgeon. In my case, because this was on the bridge of my nose, they had to do a skin graft (they can't just sew up that area, because there's hardly any extra skin.). So they took some skin from my shoulder and grafted it on to my nose. They held it in place with a cotton ball that they sewed into the nose as well. Several days later, they removed the graft.
You can hardly tell it is there. There's no hole in my nose, and no real scar. This surgery is WORTH IT. I will look for some photos I took during the procedure, and if I find them, I'll post them.