What Should I Know About Skin Cancer Reconstruction?
Cancer is a disease that can affect anyone at any age. While a lot of people recover from cancer, they often find it difficult to recover from the scars it leaves behind. Skin cancer, unfortunately, mostly occurs on the most exposed parts of the skin.
There are three basic types of skin cancer:
• Basal cell carcinoma
• Squamous cell carcinoma
• Melanoma, the most dangerous of them all
If they are caught at an early stage, with a small excision they can be removed. However, caught at a later stage may result in removal of significant portions of skin, causing deformity.
When Do You Need Reconstructive Surgery?
The extent of the cancer will define the extent of deformity. There are many effective reconstructive methods to reduce the scarring and deformity significantly.
Early stage of cancer: Removal of cancerous cells through surgical excision usually works. Sometimes electric currents may be used. This procedure is called curettage and desiccation. Cryosurgery or freezing the cancer cells before removing them is also another method. In these cases, if the cancer is not very deep, reconstructive surgery can make the scars almost invisible. Sometimes, if the cancerous part is a very small area, you may not want a reconstructive surgery as the scar would be very small.
Late stage cancer: Sometimes, what is visible on the top may not give us an idea of what lies beneath. The roots of the cancer can go deep in the layers of the skin and spread on a larger area. The surgeon may use the Mohs technique, a micrographic surgery where the cancer is removed layer by layer, often by freezing the area. This is done until a clear margin is found where there are no more areas that are or could be affected by the cancer.
Though this procedure is very specific and targets only the affected area, since the cancer has spread deep into the layers of the skin and the affected area is bigger, the deformities caused would be more significant.
While both require reconstructive surgery, it’s more extensive in the later stage.
Types of Reconstructive Surgery
There are three types of reconstructive surgery techniques:
• Scar revision: This method is used when the affected area is shallow and small. A simple scar touch up surgery can make it almost invisible.
• Flap surgery: Living skin or tissues from a different part of the body (usually a part which isn’t visible from the outside like the thighs, etc) is used with its blood vessels intact and placed on the affected area. This and the technique mentioned below are used when the affected area is deep and large.
• Grafting: It is similar to flap surgery only blood vessels are not used; it allows the skin to grow the blood vessels on its own after being grafted.
Since this is a very sensitive procedure and a lot depends on how well the skin is reattached to the affected part, it is important that you select your cosmetic surgeon very carefully. A successful surgery can make the affected area look almost normal.
Contact Our Office
Contact us to schedule a consultation with the plastic surgery experts at the Mandell-Brown Plastic Surgery Center to learn more about the different types of reconstruction surgery.