Mohs Skin Graft on my Nose Appears to Be Healing with a Significant Indentation/depression - Will It Improve?

I had a full thickness skin graft measuring just over 1 cm wide on my nose one month ago after basal cell carcinoma removal. At first the graft appeared level with the surrounding skin but now I'm noticing a significant concaveness ( about 1 mm) in the graft site. The graft starts at the centerline of my nose and then down the right side. Is it likely to improve or level out any with time? If not, is there anything that can be done to lessen the indentation?

Doctor Answers 11

Tincture of time and possibly laser can improve skin graft appearance

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Full thickness skin grafts are a common method of repairing surgical defects after Mohs surgery. They definitely improve aeshetically with time, with most grafts continuing to mature for 6-24 months. However, at our center, we treat many of these grafts (and other surgical scars) with fractional resurfacing lasers. This greatly improves both the color and texture of the graft scar. Laser treatment can be initiated wihtin a month after the surgical procedure.

New York Dermatologic Surgeon

Mohs and skin graft on nose

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It is still very early in your healing stages and can take 6-12 months for full results from the graft to show. I wouldn't worry at this point, nor would I try to do anything to resolve any concaveness. Some of it may fix itself, and if it is still concave after 6 months, options can be discussed at that point. Always if you have concerns, you should see the surgeon, and I'm sure you have follow-ups scheduled with him/her coming up. Never be afraid to ask questions and seek advice from the surgeon, as in that specific area, more tissue may have been taken underneath, the graft may not have survived entirely under it, or other causes for the concaveness. But give it some time before you seek alterations.

Depressed area to graft after skin cancer surgery #mohssurgery

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I do several hundred closures a year for Mohs surgeons locally. I use grafts a lot and I also use flaps a lot. Only the surgeon can determine what is best for you. When I use a graft I will often allow the wound to heal from the bottom up for a few weeks then graft them. The problem with a graft right away is what you describe, but it is early and I have seen the tissue beneath the graft fill in with time. One month is very early so you need to give this 6-12 months. Keep communicating with your surgeon and give it time. I never make promises like it will fill in over time, however things can be done to grafts such as dermabrasion to make them better down the road.

Richard J. Brown, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Surgical scar healing

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 I agree with the other physicians who have said that you are still early in the healing process at one month. From your description, it sounds as if  the graft has contracted, which is a normal part of healing. The other factor to consider is that a portion of the underside of the graft may not have survived and thus sunken down compared to the surrounding tissue. This is a limitation of skin grafts. 


I would discuss your concerns with your surgeon. There are many things which can be done to improve the appearance of the scar once you have healed. Options would run from injections, dermabrasion, to surgical scar revision. Be sure to discuss all of these with you surgeon. 



Dr S


Travis L. Shaw, MD
Richmond Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Depressed Area to Graft after Skin Cancer Surgery

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Generally, it takes 6-12 months to get the final cosmetic result after surgery so there may be some improvement with time. Grafts do well in some cases to reconstruct the surface; flaps may be preferred if the defect is deep because flaps reconstruct depth as well as surface. Your best option is to discuss your concern with the doctor who performed the repair. Sometimes scarabrasion (a.k.a dermabrasion) may improve the final appearance  and make the surfaces more level. Good luck.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Mohs and Skin Graft Healing

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Hi, one month is still fairly soon after the procedure. I would recommend following up with your Mohs surgeon in a few months to check in on how the healing is going. There are plenty if ways to improve the appearance of the graft down the line.

Omar Ibrahimi, MD, PhD
Stamford Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Post Skin Graft Indentation

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Thank you for your question. It can take months for a fully mature scar to form after surgery, and many times early depressions are improved with time. Typically, it is advised to not fully judge a scar as a permanent result until it has time to evolve into a mature scar (typically after 6-12 mo. of healing). In cases that do result in an unwanted scar or a depression, scar revision surgery may be considered. I hope this helps.


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A thick split thickness skin-graft contracts better than a full thickness skin graft.  The graft is sutured with a running suture biting the deep skin edge to hold the graft down on the bottom of the wound.  A small puncture is made in the graft to allow drainage.  The graft is now in a deep hole.  A cotton ball the size of the hole is soaked in clindamycin/gentamycin solution and pushed into the hole over a small patch of xeroform gauze to keep the graft down.  The nose is wiped clear of  oils and a steri-strip is glued over the cotton stent.  At first the graft is depressed.  Then, over a few weeks and months it contracts and the hole fills.  For some unknown reason, the wound levels off flat with the surrounding tissue in most cases.  This is not the case in other parts of the face and body.  The nose is special.  We have high success with this technique and every time it happens I am still amazed after 30 years of using this technique.  Best wishes. Knowledge is power.  Luis F. Villar MD FACS

Luis Villar, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

There are often better choices for nasal Mohs surgery repair than skin grafts

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Skin grafts are a good option for repairing skin removed due to cancer on the nose. In general, however, they are not the best match possible for color, texture, pore size, and tissue thickness. In almost every case, local flap repair of the nose yields a better result.

Since you have already had the skin graft, continue to follow your doctor's advice and see how the final result is at 9-12 months. If you are still not satisfied, consult with a facial plastic surgeon very experienced with flap repair to consider cutting out the skin graft and replacing it with a flap. 

Laxmeesh Mike Nayak, MD
Saint Louis Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 230 reviews

Healing after skin grafts to the nose

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Thanks for your question. 

Skin grafting is one of many options on the reconstructive ladder to fix defects of the nose. The best areas of the nose that heal with skin grafts are the areas with thin and less sebaceous skin. Sometimes, it is ideal to wait a 2-3 weeks for the wound to fill in from bottom up (by granulation) and then place a skin graft. This allows for better contour matches of the skin graft 


It is still very early to make a decision about the final result of your skin graft. I tell most of my patients to hold out on making any decisions about revision surgery until 9-12 months have passed. There are times when the tissue can fill in under the skin graft to give it a better contour match. 


Best of luck,

Sachin Parikh MD 

Sachin S. Parikh, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon

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.