September 2, 2012

Three Years Since Graft Surgery

Three years ago this month I was going through the graft process, and thankfully three years makes a big difference in how a scar fades. Here's how it looks at the 3-year mark.

Just wanted to mention something because today's date is meaningful to me. My grandmother died a few months ago. Today would have been her 100th birthday.


Summer 2012


22 comments:

  1. Things are looking GREAT! I'm so happy for you! My father turned 85 recently - I hope to reach his age - plus++, touch wood!

    Take Care,
    Peter

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  2. Wow! you are so brave !!
    read your blog and Im really glad that you are better now!
    I could see on your pics, that you have had a few scars ..
    Under your other eye, where you had stitches? and so on!
    My eyebrow are split - and right now Im confused and are
    afraid of getting a scar. (I've already have a big scar on my
    cheek). How did you treated your other scars? they are so
    invisible now ?? Hope to hear form you soon.

    Hugs

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    1. Thanks Ami. I believe scar massage helped the healing process of my scars quite a bit. The surgeon and his staff showed me how to properly massage the scar tissue and advised me to do that numerous times per day. Plus various oils and creams along the way.

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  3. Okay, great. Course you can't see the scar under your other eye now! its amazing. How do you do scar massage ? and can you do it when there is a wound on it ? or do you have to wait until it has healed. And what kind of creams did you use?
    Hugs

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    1. You wait a few weeks until the area has healed before massaging. I used cocoa butter, argan oil, coconut oil, Nivia "Soft" cream. I used so many products I can't even remember!

      Here is helpful info about scar massage http://www.emaxhealth.com/1024/66/29393/some-simple-things-do-minimize-scars.html

      This is also from a website:
      "Massage helps break down the dense bands of collagen that attach to underlying tissue," notes Robert Bernard, M.D., a plastic surgeon based in White Plains, New York, and president-elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Once skin has healed over the site, gently massage the area with lotion in a circular manner for 15 to 30 seconds a few times a day. Another preemptive strike: Apply Mederma, a nonprescription ointment that contains onion extract, which has been shown to inhibit the formation of collagen.

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  4. Hi Quiet One,

    Like many who have posted here before me, I would also like to thank you for sharing your story and pictures. I was recently diagnosed with a melanoma in situ on my face and I can't tell you how much your story, pictures and all the thoughts shared in the posts have helped me prepare for what is to come. Facing something like this is not easy and I admire your strength and willingness to share your story to help others. You can certainly be very proud of all the support you have been able to provide!

    I had my melanoma in situ excised a few weeks ago. The doctor managed to get it all "in one go" and the final biospy results thankfully confirmed that my lentigo maligna had at least not developed into a lentigo maligna melanoma (which was what my dermatologist had feared). I developed an infection while waiting 12 days for the biopsy results, so my skin graft had to be postponed slightly. I just had my graft earlier this week so have the pressure bandage on my face and a donor site with stitches on my neck as I write. Both are well hidden with dressings though so the damage is still well hidden from sight!

    I have another week to go before the pressure bandage is removed but to be honest am still so relieved that I have escaped with a melanoma in situ and nothing more advanced, that I feel positive and ready to handle the scar and everything that goes with it. That said, I know I am "luckier" than some because my melanoma in situ was at the side of my face close to my ear. So although my graft is roughly the same size as yours was, mine is less prominent and I expect I will be able to hide most of it with my hair. But maybe I should wait for the stitches and dressing to be removed before I make claims as to how well I think I can handle it!!

    Thank you again for everything you have shared. You are a wonderful, selfless person. And you look fantastic!!

    S.R

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    1. Dear SR,

      Thanks for your lovely, kind words. I'm glad you are relieved and feeling positive after going through all of that.

      The receptionist (an older woman) at my surgeon's office showed me her graft scar which was near her ear and it looked very good, and could be hidden with a bit of hair. Hers was the only other graft I've actually seen besides my own.

      I wish you all the best with your healing, and please come back to post an update in the future.

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  5. Hi again Quiet One,

    I just wanted to quickly post an update to my last post from Oct. 5th.
    I had my wonderful "mushroom" bandage removed from my face today - a full 14 days after the graft surgery and certainly longer than I had expected to wait. I won't pretend I remained patient throughout the wait. There were days when I almost wanted to rip off the dressing in a fit of rage!! I had been expecting and hoping to have it removed after about 9-10 days, but when my dermasurgeon carefully peeked at the graft site on day 10, and was happy there were no signs of infection, he opted to leave it on for a few more days. But, the waiting seems to have paid off and my graft actually seems to have taken really well.

    I was able to take a peek at the graft site briefly before the nurse applied the next pressure dressing. My doctor was really pleased with the results. While I couldn't quite bring myself to use the word "super" (which was his way of describing it), even I could see (through the ugliness of it all!) that the graft site actually looks quite okay. No signs of any necrotic tissue and the coloring looks pretty "healthy" too. So fingers crossed that it continues to heal this well.

    My latest pressure dressing is to stay on for another week. This probably sounds like an odd thing to say, but I don't yet feel that the graft I saw today in a small handheld mirror is mine. I think it will only really sink in once I stand at home in front of my own mirror and take a really good look at it. Today when I looked at the graft site in my doctor's surgery, it was the first time I had even seen this part of my face in almost 5 weeks (since the excision). It's only a 15-minute drive to my dermatologist/dermasurgeon, so all my dressings have been changed there so far.

    Oh, one interesting thing that my dermatologist mentioned in passing just before he performed the graft surgery. He said it was important to wait a certain period of time between the excision and the graft surgery to help prevent a dent. I don't know the medical reasoning behind this, but just wanted to mention it as it wasn't something I had specifically read about before and I found it interesting since my impression had been that the excision and graft are performed at the same time by some surgeons.

    I'll aim to post another update in a week or two once I have "seen more" of my graft!

    Bye for now,
    SR

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    1. Thanks so much for the update and interesting information. I'm happy to hear how well you are healing. Maybe mine would have done better if they left the pressure bandage on longer. Funny how the surgeons can look at something like that and say it looks super, but to us it's a frightful sight to see. How nice to hear that from your doctor! When the doctor is pleased with the results, that is a very good thing. My excision & graft were performed at the same time. I do have a bit of a dent. My surgeon explained that it was due to removing a sub-layer of skin or something like that. It's not too bad though.

      Looking forward to hearing from you again.

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  6. Quiet One, you look great! Your graft scar is virtually invisible from what I can tell. Glad you are doing so well!

    I wrote you back in June about a stage 1 melanoma I had removed from my chest...unfortunately the graft didn't take, and the doctor chose to let the skin grow back on its own when the graft came off. The scar is still quite red and shiny, but I'm using silicone scar sheets religiously and it has gotten smaller, flatter and lighter in 3 months. I'm sure it'll look much better in a year! To be honest, I'm much more worried about the melanoma coming back, and nervous about other moles I have. Going to the dermie next week for a 3 month check-up and plan to have several moles biopsied/removed. Rather be safe than sorry and prefer to have little scars instead of waiting for a potential problem to grow.

    Take care and thanks again for your wonderful blog! Kat =)

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    1. Hi Kat,

      Nice to hear from you. Thanks very much for your nice words. Those silicone scar sheets are good. Glad to hear you see your scar changing for the better. I agree, best to get those little moles removed while they are small. Much easier that way...get rid of them rather than worry about what they might do over time. Take care!


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  7. I can not thank you enough for sharing your story. I found your blog the night before my palm excision following lesion excision two weeks before. I had a silver dollar sized excision with a full thickness graft from my wrist. Your pictures and story have given me tremendous encouragement.

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    1. Your kind note feels like a gift to me (today's my 51st birthday). Thank you!

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    2. Happy birthday to a beautiful you.

      The irony is, I just completed a presentations class where I am to work on more hand movement and animation.. now I will have a scarred arm. But you know, this scar saved my life so I will not feel ashamed.

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    3. Hello again! It has been 7 weeks since my surgery. My full thickness skin graft "did not take" except for a tiny sliver. It has taken a lot of patience and quite a battle with discouragement, but the graff continued to migrate and the site is 99% closed now. Being in my palm, I have learned to allow others to help me and to choose my involvement carefully. I am thrilled! and continue to be encouraged by your blog.

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  8. A belated happy birthday to you, Quiet One!

    Well I had my final dressing removed 5 days ago (3 weeks post graft surgery). Seeing the graft at home in my own mirror for the first time certainly made me gulp. Like any graft, it's not exactly pretty. But I know it's probably as good as a graft could be at this point. I am now glad that it was hidden for so long - I think that spared me a lot of distress. Touching my graft to apply cream to it for the first time was harder than I imagined though. I knew I wouldn't like it, but I wasn't expecting to almost pass out - which is what happened. I had to sit with my head between my knees for a few minutes to recover! Touching it upset me more than actually looking at it.

    I found it very hard to go out to work without any kind of dressing for the first time. Even though I could hide it with my hair to a certain extent, I was so conscious of this "thing" on my cheek. By day two, I felt much better and by day three, I somehow managed to stop worrying about what it looked like at all. But I know that its position (close to my ear) really helps and am very grateful for that. I don't know that I can say that my graft has that "pepperoni" look. It's not too red and I can already see it lightening slightly every day. I can also see the beginnings of some thicker, raised parts so I wonder if this is a sign that I may be heading for quite a bit of hypertrophic scarring. Maybe I should think about silicone sheets. I wish I had remembered to ask my doctor about them - is it safe to assume they can't do any harm?

    I think I can say that I am over the worst of my first melanoma in situ experience. (Even though I have always been careful about using sunscreen and avoiding the sun, I am very fair skinned and only 36, so fear that this may not be the last.) I really can't tell you how much your blog has helped me and how well it prepared me for what to expect. I would have had no idea otherwise. It has been so encouraging and I honestly can't thank you enough - thank you, thank you, thank you! Your blog has been my rock. If you are interested in seeing pictures of my graft and there is any way I can send them to you, please just let me know!

    Take care and thank you again for sharing your experience and for your wonderful blog!
    SR

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    1. I'm so happy that your graft has good color! It sounds like yours is healing VERY well!

      Sorry you passed out! It is strange touching it, but for me it doesn't feel so weird after 3 years. Speaking of passing out, I passed out the ONLY time in my life after getting my skin graft. It was the night after surgery and I got up to go to the bathroom. I have no idea why, but that led to me passing out! Never happened before.

      Early on I had the thicker, raised parts that the surgeon called "roping" and that responded very well to daily scar massage. Push hard! Also the silicone sheet helped with that when I wore it overnight. I don't think there's anything harmful about the silicone, but check with your doctor's office and see what they say. My scar would be flatter in the morning after using a silicone sheet, but seemed to get raised again during the day. Over time, the entire scar did flatten and soften, maybe because I was so diligent about massaging.

      Sorry you had to go through this experience, but it makes me very happy that this blog has been encouraging to you!! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

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    3. Well I was only very close to passing out - everything started to go black, but I managed to sit myself down before I actually passed out! I'm not surprised to hear that you actually passed out soon after your surgery. Any kind of your surgery can really play havoc with your system.

      Yes, I think I need to check with my doctor's office re the silicone sheets and also re scar massage. The last instructions I got was to simply gently rub in the scar cream twice a day and to come back in January. The beginning of January will be three months post graft surgery. To me, that seems quite late to be starting with scar massage. I feel my graft site will be ready for massage sooner than that.
      I have made a note of your e-mail address so will send you some pictures really soon.
      Many thanks again,
      SR

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  9. WOW! You look GREAT. I just stumbled upon your blog after searching for information on skin grafts. I just had a huge skin graft done on my shoulder two months ago for a third degree burn, and it just looks like a wad of pink bubble gum sitting on my shoulder. I'm only 19 and the thought of not even being able to wear a sleeveless dress on my wedding day without having everyone focus on my graft is daunting. Your story gives me hope that someday my graft will look as good as yours!

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    1. Thanks! Sorry you had such a serious burn - that sounds very painful. With time your "bubble gum" will probably look less gummy. If there's any way you can massage the scar on a regular basis to keep the scar tissue from getting hard (keep it pliable), that'll probably help minimize it somewhat. And there are laser treatments I've read about to help the appearance of scars, but that's probably expensive.

      Long sleeve wedding dresses can be very pretty too, or even sheer material on the sleeves. :)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLJ0Qx7zP9A This shows scar massage on someone's leg, but gives you an idea of how much pressure to apply. Coconut or argan oil (or lotion) helps when I massage the scar on my cheek. I don't massage daily like I did the first couple of years, but I still do occasionally.

      I appreciate your note, and good luck to you!

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