Home Forums Melanoma Diagnosis: Stages I &II Healing after wide surgical excision/lymph node biopsy

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    Hi, I’m brand new here. Is anyone else going through the healing process after successful removal of Stage II malignant melanoma (size 3 mole?) ?

    I have had surgery already, in late March, and had xenografts. The incision was very large, much more than I expected, and a bit slow to heal. Also, area under arm where sentinel lymph nodes were removed are still very sore and can’t sleep on that side. A month ago, I had an infection in that arm, or a kind of rash, due to the lymph nodes not working, but antibiotics cured that quickly. That was rather scary!

    Anyone else wondering if this process of healing is slower than anticipated? I had a great surgeon and excellent prognosis as far as not finding any spread of the malignancy. Just hoping that after four months, I might be healing faster overall.

    Looking forward to your replies.

    Catherine Poole

    Hello and welcome,

    I am not sure what you mean by a size three mole? Maybe you can explain further. It does sound like you had a lot of surgery and it does take a lot of time to heal these things. Perhaps someone else can tell you how long it took their healing to take place. Have you called your doctor to discuss?


    Everyone heals differently so it’s difficult to say. It only took me about a month to heal from the SLB then I was back for the complete Lymph node dissection. I am sure that the infection slowed the healing process. The pain is probably from tightness under the arm or might be nerve damage which can take up to 18 months to heal (I know this from experience). If the swelling is down and the tissue is healed you can ask your doctor for some simple stretches to get your arm back in shape. Once you can start doing them it doesn’t take long to regain mobility. If there was some nerve damage, it’s just a waiting game until the thing heals…it’s not fun but it’s not the worse thing in the world either.

    My nerve damage was kind of funny because two of my middle fingers went numb, when I told the surgeon about it he looked at me very seriously and said “Hummm that’s a new one on me” I said “Doc, that’s not helpful!” You have to laugh at yourself, because no one else will! Glad you have such a great attitude regarding your prognosis.


    Stage 3


    Hi and thank you for your replies.

    I can’t recall how the “sizing” works on the moles, but I recall a number 3 something. Sorry! The mole was previously removed and biopsied, and then I had the surgery: both a wide surgical excision for the area where the mole had been, (on my back) and also some sentinel lymph nodes were taken for sampling in my left arm. I was found to be all clear of any malignancy.

    Caveat: I am not a medical professional and the following are just my own personal experiences, as a patient only.

    I had xenografts on the large area on my back. For anyone who is not familiar with that term, xenografts are made from pig skin. They are very light, silvery, gossamer “grafts” that aid the patient’s skin in healing. They are an excellent alternative when the surgical area cannot be closed the usual way. The only alternative for me would have been a smaller excision area (which is not what the surgeon would have ordered) or the same size area excised and having to endure a “wound vac,” something I don’t want to know anymore about as it sounds scary. Also, the wound vac would have required people coming to the house via home health care. I’m not sure if that alternative would have been painful but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

    Drawbacks to the xenograft are that while you keep having to have new ones put on every ten days or so, they exert a strong, unpleasant scent, and get hot and uncomfortable. But all in all, they are a great improvement over past methods from what I’ve been told.

    It is now past mid July and I am still healing, slowly but surely. I was wondering if anyone else had had the experience of xenographs, or if anyone else had larger surgical excisions than they were expecting. I was surprised at how wide and deep they were, but I understand this is necessary to check for any possibility of spreading.

    My lymph node area is also healing slowly. I still have pain in that arm and in my back when I try to reach up, but that is lessening in time.

    I had one incidence of an infection in the arm where I had the sentinel lymph nodes removed. I was never told that you should not have blood pressure taken in the arm where the lymph nodes were operated on, or that a blood draw should be from the other arm.

    I went to an oncologist for a post operative check up and the nurse used the arm where I’d had the surgery to draw several vials of blood. Also, all my post op appts. at the surgeon’s office included having BP taken from the arm that had the lymph node samples taken from.

    After the oncology blood draw, I noticed two nights later at bedtime that my left arm was “speckled” with bright red blotches. I got through the night all right, then my husband rushed me to the surgeon the next morning. I was put on antibiotics which worked quickly. I had looked up anything I could find related to lymph nodes and rashes on the internet just before I came in that morning, and found that patients should be told and medical personnel should know, never to take BP or draw blood from the same arm where sentinel lymph nodes were removed!

    I asked the doctor if my infection could have come from the blood draw in that arm, and/or having BP always taken in that arm by the office nurse, and he confirmed that.

    Lymph nodes can be delicate after surgery. If they are not draining normally, infection can set in because they can’t rid the body of infection as well as before surgery, while you are healing. Had I know about this, I would have insisted on using the other arm for all the follow up BP checks and certainly asked the oncology nurse not to take blood from the arm where I’d had the sentinel lymph nodes removed. I would have asked medical personal to use the other arm for the blood tests and BP checks. Again, I am not a medical professional, just a patient, so this is all just my personal experience.

    Anyone else with similar experiences?

    Thank you all for your previous replies.

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