Skin Cancer Surgery Repair

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SKIN CANCER SURGERY REPAIR
(Repair of Defect After Skin Cancer Removal)

WHY MIGHT I NEED SURGERY AFTER SKIN CANCER REMOVAL?

Skin cancer in light-skinned people is relatively common. In order to remove the cancer, the oculoplastic surgeon or a dermatology surgeon (MOHS surgeon) may remove the cancer and the oculoplastic surgeon will then repair the defect (missing tissue).

HOW IS THE SKIN REPAIR DONE?

Repair of the missing skin tissue is usually done in an operating room. IV sedation is frequently used. However, if the defect is large, it may require general anesthesia. Two basic techniques are used: Flaps and Grafts. A skin graft is done by removing skin in a normal spot and stitching it to fill in the missing tissue from the skin cancer removal surgery. A flap is done by incising (cutting) and stretching the skin around the defect to fill in the hole. Your doctor will choose the type of closure that he feels is best for your skin defect.

HOW WILL THIS SURGERY AFFECT MY APPEARANCE?

The cosmetic results of the skin cancer repair surgery depend upon the patient’s severity (size) and location of the defect, the patient’s unique anatomy and appearance goals. Skin cancer defect surgery is not considered cosmetic surgery but most patients feel that they look better after the cancer is removed and they have healed. The goal of this surgery is to 1). get rid the patient of the cancer, 2). give them a the best functioning eyelid, and 3). give the patient the most normal appearance possible.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR RISKS?

Risks of skin cancer surgery include but are not limited to: bleeding, infection, an asymmetric or unbalanced appearance, scarring, numbness and/or tingling on the face and damage to nerves that move the face or give feeling to the face. You may need additional treatment or surgery to treat these issues. Due to individual differences in anatomy, response to surgery, and wound healing, no guarantees can be made as to your final result.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

In some patients (bed-ridden patients that are unable to undergo surgery or patients that refuse surgery) the skin cancer can be treated with topical medicine and treatments (freezing therapy) or even radiation. The downside of this type of treatment is that it is impossible to tell if all the cancer cells are dead. The skin cancer may look as if it is gone and then return months or years later making it even harder to remove at that time. Surgery is considered to be the gold standard.

WHAT TYPE OF ANESTHESIA IS USED? WHAT ARE THE MAJOR RISKS?

The type of anesthesia will depend on the size and location of the tissue defect and patient preference. Risks of anesthesia include but are not limited to damage to the eye and surrounding tissue and structures, loss of vision, breathing problems, and, in extremely rare circumstances, stroke or death.