Skin Cancer Removal
Surgically removing cancerous and other skin lesions using specialized techniques to preserve your health and your appearance.
What is skin cancer removal?
A cancer diagnosis is very difficult to accept. Understanding that treating your skin cancer may result in scars or disfigurement can also be troubling. Your plastic surgeon understands your concerns and will guide you through treatment and explain the resulting effect on your health and appearance.
Skin cancer, much like any form of cancer, may require surgery to remove cancerous growths. Your plastic surgeon can surgically remove cancerous and other skin lesions using specialized techniques to preserve your health and your appearance.
Although no surgery is without scars, your plastic surgeon will make every effort to treat your skin cancer without dramatically changing your appearance.
Skin cancer removal recovery
During your skin cancer removal surgery recovery, incision sites may be sore, red, or drain small amounts of fluid following surgery.
- It is important to follow all wound care instructions such as cleansing and applying topical medications exactly as directed
- You will be able to return to light activity as instructed by your surgeon
- Make certain to keep your incision sites clean and well protected from potential injury
- Try to limit movement that may stress your wound and your sutures
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
- When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
- How long will it take before healing is complete?
Healing will continue for many weeks or months as incision lines continue to improve.
It may take a year or more following a given procedure for incision lines to refine and fade to some degree. In some cases, secondary procedures may be required to complete or refine your reconstruction.
Sun exposure to healing wounds may result in irregular pigmentation and scars that can become raised, red, or dark. Sun exposure may increase the risk of the development of skin cancer in another region of your body.
Skin cancer removal procedure steps
Depending on the size, type and location of the lesion, there are many ways to remove skin cancer and reconstruct your appearance if necessary.
The following are some of the possible procedure steps involved in skin cancer removal surgery:
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include local, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – Removal
A small or contained lesion may be removed with excision – a simple surgical process to remove the lesion from the skin. Closure is most often performed in conjunction with excision.
Skin cancer can be like an iceberg. What is visible on the skin surface sometimes is only a small portion of the growth.
Beneath the skin, the cancerous cells cover a much larger region and there are no defined borders. In these cases, a specialized technique called Mohs surgery may be recommended.
During this procedure, your plastic surgeon may order a frozen section. During this step, the cancerous lesion is removed and microscopically examined by a pathologist prior to wound closure to ensure all cancerous cells have been removed.
The goal is to look for a clear margin – an area where the skin cancer has not spread. If clear margins are found, the resulting wound would be reconstructed. If clear margins are not present, your plastic surgeon will remove more tissues until the entire region has a clear margin.
Step 3 – Reconstruction
A skin cancer lesion that is particularly large, is being removed with frozen sections or is likely to cause disfigurement may be reconstructed with a local flap.
Healthy, adjacent tissue is repositioned over the wound. The suture line is positioned to follow the natural creases and curves of the face if possible, to minimize the obviousness of the resulting scar.
Your surgeon may choose to treat your wound with a skin graft instead of a local flap. A skin graft is a thin bit of skin removed from one area of the body and relocated to the wound site.
Step 4 – See the results
After your skin cancer has been removed and any primary reconstruction is completed, a dressing or bandages will be applied to your incisions. Get more information on skin cancer removal results.
Skin cancer removal results
Your plastic surgeon can treat your skin cancer by surgically removing cancerous skin and closing the resulting wound. Some forms of skin cancer require additional treatment such as radiation therapy.
Your physician will advise you about any follow-up treatment recommendations.
Reconstruction closes the skin cancer defect, but no reconstruction is perfect. Visible scars will always remain at incision sites. You may also see textural, color or other visible differences of the skin in reconstructed areas.
In some cases, treating your skin cancer can be disfiguring to your appearance.
Although every effort is made to restore your appearance as closely and naturally as possible, the most important factor is that your skin cancer is effectively cured.
Following your physician’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery. It’s important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.