Preparing for Your Skin Surgery

This information will help you prepare for your skin surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK).

Please follow the instructions below before your skin surgery. This will help reduce the risk of problems during your surgery. Your nurse will review these instructions with you.

Preparing for Your Surgery

Tell us if you:

  • Have had any lymph nodes removed
  • Have any of the following:
    • A heart valve replacement
    • Bacterial endocarditis (an infection of the valves and inner lining of the heart )
    • A defibrillator or pacemaker
    • Bleeding problems
    • Prosthesis (including a total joint replacement)
  • Are taking antibiotics before a dental procedure

Tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications:

Aspirin (aspirin/dipyridamole) Heparin Pletal® (cilostazol)
Aggrenox®(aspirin/dipyridamole) Innohep® (Tinzaparin) Pradaxa® (dabigatran/etexilate)
Ecotrine®(aspirin) Lovenox® (enoxaparin) Coumadin® (warfarin)
Fragmin® (dalteparin) Plavix® (clopidogrel) Eliquis® (apixaban)

Medications such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and vitamin E can increase your risk of bleeding during surgery. Do not take medications that have them unless your doctor says it is okay. Below is a list of common NSAIDs and medications that contain aspirin:



Arthritis Pain Formula











(most formulations)

Excedrin® Extra-Strength

Analgesic Tablets and Caplets





Alka Seltzer®



(most formulations)





Percodan® Tablets

(oxycodone and aspirin)


(aspirin and caffeine)

Children’s aspirin



(most formulations)





Anaprox DS®


Children’s Motrin®








This list does not include all NSAIDs or medications that contain aspirin. Ask your doctor or nurse if you are unsure about any medications. For more information, please read Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

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7 Days Before Your Surgery

Stop Taking Herbal Remedies and Supplements

Stop taking any herbal or botanical home remedies or other dietary supplements, including:

  • Echinacea
  • Garlic
  • Gingko (also known as gingko biloba)
  • Ginseng
  • Turmeric
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Valerian
  • Herbal formulas

This list does not include all herbal or botanical home remedies or other dietary supplements. Ask your doctor or nurse if you are unsure about any supplements. For more information, please read Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.

Consider Arranging for Someone to Take You Home

Discuss with your medical team, if you should have someone 18 years or older take you home after your surgery. If you don’t have anyone, call one of the agencies below. They will provide someone to accompany you home, however there is usually a charge for this service and you will also need to provide transportation.

In New York:
     Partners in Care 888-735-8913
     Prime Care 212-944-0244

In New Jersey:
     Caring People 877-227-4649

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The Day Before Your Surgery

  • Do not drink alcohol for 1 day before your surgery.
  • Shower and shampoo your hair the night or morning before your surgery.
  • Take your usual medications, unless your doctor gives you other instructions.
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The Day of Your Surgery

  • You can eat and drink as usual. If you are having Mohs surgery, bring lunch or a snack with you.
  • Do not put makeup, moisturizers, or shaving lotions on the site of surgery.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes or a button down shirt.
  • Bring your routine medications (e.g., diabetes medications) that you may need during the day.
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Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You:

  • Have to cancel or change your surgery appointment.
  • Will be traveling immediately after your surgery. This may affect your appointment.
  • Have any questions or concerns.
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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Preparing for Your Skin Surgery
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on November 27, 2015