Melanoma surgery

The following information is designed to be helpful after having surgery for melanoma.


Pain and discomfort is perfectly normal after melanoma surgery. Dr Gault will prescribe the appropriate pain relief if necessary.


It is possible that there will be some bleeding after your surgery. We recommend that you leave the dressing in place and apply some pressure with a gauze pad or something similar. It may help to sit up half reclined with a few pillows behind your back and apply continuous pressure over the site of the bleeding for 15-20 minutes.

Swelling / Bruising

Swelling and bruising is common, and this is particularly the case where you have had surgery near the nose and/or the eyes. You can alleviate these symptoms by keeping your head high up and by using one or more ice packs for 24 hours after the procedure, for ten minutes every hour.

If within 48 hours either the redness and/or the pain have not decreased substantially, or if there is any drainage or discharge from the wound starts, there is a possibly an infection present and it is very important that you contact Dr Gault’s rooms as soon as possible.

Wound Care

Dr Gault will give detailed instructions on how to care for your wound after the procedure and arrangements will also be made for any sutures to be removed.

Physical Activity

We strongly recommend that you avoid sport or travel after surgery and you will need at least one week’s complete rest after surgery to minimise the possibility of post-operative complications.

Strenuous activity should also be avoided for at least a week after any sutures have been removed.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage is a risk with melanoma removal however it is normally only temporary, unless there has been extensive removal of cancerous cells, in which case nerve damage may be permanent.


Scarring from surgery usually settles improves considerably over time, and even flaps and grafts generally improve within three to six months. Other treatments such as massage and cortisone injections or further surgery may improve scars, although with extensive skin cancer or complex wounds, more complex reconstruction surgery may be needed, which can leave more obvious scarring. Dr Gault can discuss a range of options with you.

Risks / Complications

All surgery has an element of risks and complications do sometimes arise. The following is a list of possible complications after melanoma surgery:

  • bleeding
  • bruising
  • infections
  • numbness
  • scarring
  • skin tightening/stretching
  • swelling

Most problems resolve over time, however there will always be some scarring which will remain.


If you have previously had a melanoma, you are at greater risk of developing new melanomas.

If the melanoma that was treated was thick or had spread to nearby tissue, that risk is higher again. It is very important to follow your doctor’s schedule for regular checkups after your surgery.