Skin cancer reconstruction is a surgical procedure to cosmetically restore areas of skin that have been surgically removed in skin cancer treatment. Surgeons work collaboratively with cancer doctors to ensure all cancer cells are removed. The goal is to restore the skin and create a look that is as natural in appearance as possible.
Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer comes in many forms and is quite commonly diagnosed. We treat most common types of skin cancer including:
- basal cell carcinoma
- squamous cell carcinoma
- and some types of melanoma
We can also treat areas of actinic keratosis. In some cases, referral to a specialized surgical oncologist or skin cancer doctor such as a Moh’s surgeon may be recommended.
What are the benefits of skin cancer reconstruction?
Skin cancer reconstruction can help to replace the skin of the treated area if there was a significant amount of tissue removed during treatment. It can also simply assist in creating a more natural look to the affected area after treatment, so that you can feel and look like yourself again. This can often be quite beneficial physically and emotionally.
Forms of skin cancer reconstruction
The surgical approach tends to depend on the depth and size of the tumor that is being removed.
A deeper tumor will require a skin flap to be used that has fatty tissue or muscle that can be reconnected to the blood supply of the area that was excised. If it is superficial, but requires that a large surface area is removed, then a skin graft may be recommended. Skin will be taken from an area where the missing skin will be less noticeable, such as the inner thigh.
Other approaches may involve the use of cartilage from the ears or nose if the removed tissue involved the removal of cartilage. This is more common with tumors located around the nose, as the nose may require reconstruction after treatment.
What can I expect during recovery?
Recovery time depends on the extent of reconstruction that had to be performed, but often any stitches that had to be used will be removed within the first seven to ten days. Skin grafts and the use of tissue flaps will take longer to heal than reconstruction after a simple excision. Dr. Flugstad will show you how to care for the surgical site for optimal healing.
Other forms of skin cancer removal
Other forms that may not require skin grafts or other surgical reconstruction are:
- Moh’s surgery
- Electrodessication and curettage
Moh’s surgery reconstruction
Are you scheduled for Moh’s surgery? Moh’s surgery is a specialized treatment that helps ensure complete removal of some types of skin cancer. Moh’s surgery involves the careful removal of the affected tissue, layer by layer, until there is no sign of the cancer left. This approach may be used in many cases.
It is most commonly performed on the head and neck, and sometimes other areas. We partner with Several Moh’s surgeons in our community to offer reconstruction of skin defects created by Moh’s surgery. We would be happy to discuss your reconstructive options with you or your Moh’s surgeon.