Wilma is a skin cancer specialist nurse, here to answer your questions about different...
I had my pre-op with the surgeon yesterday and I’m booked to have my WLE next Tuesday (21st).
Has anyone had a WLE on the lower leg/calf and can give me an idea of what to expect?
Unfortunately my biopsy site burst it’s stitches (despite my working from home with my leg raised for 3days as instructed) and ended up needing more than 6 weeks to heal properly (the last 3 with almost total rest and elevated leg).
My surgeon was quite flippant and unconcerned (why is it that even though they do these every day, they don’t take into account this is a big deal for you?). She said, yes it will be much bigger and deeper, and said as my other one opened up, “this one might too”. She said she would try to avoid doing a skin graft but if she can’t close it she will, but she won’t know till the time. When I asked if it would take as long to heal she just shrugged and said ‘hope not”.
Any similar experiences/advice? I’m preparing to rest with my leg up for the first 2 weeks and hope that it gives it the best chance of healing quickly without opening up. I’m anxious for it to heal as soon as possible because my SCNS says she can’t check my lymph nodes until it’s healed. She hasn’t been able to do it at since diagnosis as my biopsy site took so long to heal (and the healing process can apparently make your lymph nodes enlarged).
Whilst with a 1A melanoma it’s unlikely to have gone there, I’ll still feel better when they’ve been checked. Last week at my mole check my SCNS identifies 3 more smaller black ‘abnormal’ moles she said she was putting under surveillance.
Any thoughts, advice etc would be really helpful - thanks so much :/
I had a WLE on my right lower leg on side of calf on 3rd Jan. I’ve had a skin flap so my scar looks like a big shark bite! It actually looks worse than how it feels. It hasn’t hurt me at all and hasn’t affected me in any way. I had the SLNB at the top of groin at the same time and that has affected me as it’s causing pain from the thigh all way down to my knee. However, I am out walking on it (with a limp) and doing day to day tasks! I know I was told to take it easy but with a 3 year old and 16month old it’s bloody impossible.
I am sure you will be fine and hopefully have a quick recovery.
My WLE was on the inside of my lower calf. I am *lucky* to have fairly fleshy calves (not ideal for boots however) so mine closed easily, as did the 2nd WLE in the same spot when they hadn’t got clear margins. I think you need to take the wins where you can in our situation - and I suspect your calves are much more shapely and muscular than mine, which is why you split your biopsy stitches!!
In terms of healing, it was more painful than I’d anticipated initially, with some deep throbbing going on that only eased off when it was in the air, so that really helped me take it easy. That got much better by about day 3 I reckon. I was told not to drive for 3-weeks. I’d say after the first week I was moving around much more easily without too much worry.
Just looking through my pics to give you an idea, but all my early days ones are really zoomed in, so don’t give a great idea about size.
I’ve literally just taken the 2nd pic to give you an idea of how it’s healed - so please excuse the hairy legs and sock marks, but I’ve got very little dignity left after sharing groin dissection pics on the internet!! It probably only took a couple of months to look this well healed though. The first pic is about 10 days after.
Be prepared to take it easy, but you’ll be able to feel if you’re overdoing it.
Best of luck. Xxx
Wow, mine is almost in exactly the same place - maybe slightly higher towards my knee. Trust me, my calves are no more shapely and muscular than yours! Your experience - and pics have given me confidence that if I rest with my leg elevated for the first couple of weeks i can avoid it splitting. Thank you! How long until you could go back to work?
Also, your Breslow thickness was almost the same too. How long before you found it had spread to your lymph nodes?
Thanks Jo, that’s really encouraging. How long did they say until you could go back to work and walk/manage stairs etc normally? X
That first time they signed me off work for 3-weeks, but that was mostly because of the driving. Because it was the first lot of any sick leave I’d taken, I just took the whole lot and didn’t think anything of it. For subsequent treatment, when my paid allowance was running low, I took much less time off and worked from home instead. Luckily work was great at giving me the flexibility to do that. I could have worked sooner that first time, but it was the commuting that would have been difficult - and walking either end of public transport would actually have been worse than the driving.
The second time when they took more, it didn’t need to be as deep again, just wider, so they only signed me off for 2-weeks that time and it was less painful and healed faster.
Timeline wise... my first WLE was mid-Dec, the second one was the end of Feb, and it was mid-April I found the lump in my groin. It was quite interesting really, because they’d been very dismissive of any risk of it spreading and hadn’t really told me to check my lymph nodes. I found the lump by accident really, I wasn’t particularly checking for one - but it was very obvious when I did find it. It was also much more towards the front of my thigh than I ever would have thought previously, rather than in the ‘groove’ that we probably mean when we say groin. So I’m not sure I would have been checking quite there even if I had been checking! Fingers crossed you’re done and dusted first time. X
Rower1 I can’t imagine how you’re managing running around after little ones after all that! Big up to you...! x
I’ve been signed off work for 6 weeks. I managed the stairs the night of the surgery. I’ve found it all quite manageable. The SLNB area is the worst as it feels like a torn muscle. The WLE has caused me no pain at all.
I’m hoping you’re recovering well. I’m booked in for a WLE with skin graft in the same place on 21st feb. Also a SLNB. Any advice at all would be appreciated ? Have you managed to rest ?
My WLE went well and I didn’t need a skin graft which was lucky, but it is tightly stitched and my mission is to keep them intact and do everything I can to help the wound heal without opening up like it did before (with a wound half the size). Mine is slightly higher than yours I think - more where the fleshy bit of the calf is, closer to my knee than my ankle, which is probably why you will have to have a skin graft.
I believe Rower1 had a WLE with skin graft in a similar place to yours, and an SNLB, so should be able to give you a better idea of what to expect,
With my WLE I have made it my mission to rest with it elevated practically constantly, with a bit of hobbling round the house as necessary, and one week on it looks to be doing the job of healing well. You will know if you’ve overdone the hobbling, or generally
being on your feet as your leg will ache. I didn’t find the surgeon’s suggestion of paracetamol and ibuprofen was enough for me in the first few days so got something stronger from my GP.
Good luck with it - you will feel relieved when it’s done.
Thankyou Jane. Really pleased to hear you didn’t need a skin graft , mine is a bit lower down. Which is a shame as I do have plenty spare a bit further up !
I will feel relieved once it’s done. You are right. I wouldn’t have thought to ask for stronger pain killers. Good tip!
Wishing you a speedy recovery. Alie x
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