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Reconstruction after BCC – letting it heal

Letting a wound heal on its own after BCC surgery is known by medics as ‘letting it heal by secondary intention healing’.

This is, as it sounds, where a wound is not stitched or reconstructed, and instead is allowed to heal on its own. This may sound a little strange at first, but sometimes can be the best option.


How is a wound dressed when left to heal?

Usually, the wound would be dressed after BCC removal with a non-adherent dressing. Antibiotic ointment may also be used, especially when around the eyes. The non-stick dressing is used as otherwise the healing wound could stick to the dressing, which would then be sore and may bleed when the dressing is changed.


Which wounds might be left to heal on their own?

There are a number of wounds that might be suitable for being left to heal after BCC surgery. These include small wounds from BCCs on the nose, wounds near the eye, or wounds on the forehead. Sometimes, more complex wounds, such as eyelid wounds, might be able to be left to heal, but this usually needs an experienced surgeon to make this decision.


How long does a wound take to heal?

This depends on a number of factors, including size of wound, location of wound, your age, other issues such as medications, and diet. Often, when a wound is left to heal after BCC removal, it will seem to not do much at all for the first 1-2 weeks. A ‘scab’ may form, but no obvious shrinkage in wound may be seen. At around 3-4 weeks the wound usually starts to heal in. The scab will peel away, with a healed area underneath. Occasionally it can take longer, but most wounds will be healed by around 5-6 weeks.


What does the scar look like when left to heal?

Again, this depends on the size and location of the wound, but the scarring can sometimes be better than if the wound was reconstructed (stitched). Occasionally, the scar can leave a noticeable ‘dent’ or may be too tight (known as contracture) and so further surgery might be needed to improve this.


Other BCC reconstruction pages

Reconstruction after BCC surgery – direct closure

Reconstruction afer BCC surgery – local flap

Reconstruction after BCC surgery – full thickness skin graft (FTSG)

Reconstruction after BCC surgery – split skin graft (SSG)

Reconstruction after BCC surgery – forehead flap

Reconstruction after BCC surgery – pedicled nasolabial flap


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This information is for general knowledge only and does not replace information provided by healthcare professionals. If you have any concerns about any skin growth, or the treatment options, you should consult a medical professional urgently