If you have received the news that you have skin cancer, the implications can seem very overwhelming and scary. Fortunately, skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, if caught early. Technology has evolved to the point that there are precise and minimally-traumatic surgical options for removing the cancer cells, and also for reconstructing the area once those have been removed. If you are grappling with a new diagnosis and are planning your treatment for facial surgery such as MOHS to remove cancer, there is some good news. If you are working with skilled providers, it is possible to plan all stages of treatment and reconstruction to occur simultaneously. So what are the possible procedures involved for skin cancer treatment, and how do you go about putting them together?
MOHS surgery has become accepted as the most effective treatment for the two most common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma. The procedure involves removing small layers of cancerous skin and examining them under a microscope. More layers are removed until no cancer cells remain. This method of excision involves the least amount of trauma to the surrounding tissues and makes reconstruction much simpler. This procedure is generally extremely successful.
A procedure used to “grow” more skin, tissue expansion is ideal for creating more material to be used in facial reconstruction after MOHS surgery. A silicone balloon is placed under the skin and is gradually filled with saline solution through weekly injections. The skin slowly expands, and this tissue can then be used in the reconstruction. While the process itself is an inconvenience, the results from using the expanded skin in reconstruction are usually well worth the effort. Tissue expansion on the scalp can even produce hair-bearing skin for use in reconstructing the scalp.
Once any necessary tissue expansion and cancer treatment has been completed, the facial reconstruction portion of the process can begin. A plastic surgeon uses grafted tissue to cover over any lesions created by MOHS surgery to minimize the aesthetic impact of the procedure. This is especially important for facial and scalp lesions, and only a highly skilled facial plastic surgeon will have the experience and ability to repair the damage done by MOHS surgery. Provided everything goes well, the outcomes from reconstructive surgery are extremely good.
Planning Your Procedure
When you are planning multiple surgeries to treat your skin cancer and have reconstruction performed, it can be very overwhelming. The key is to make sure that all parties involved are in communication and you feel comfortable with the process. Do as much research and ask as many questions as you need to during the planning process to help make sure everything goes smoothly. Choosing the right surgeons will be the most important part of the process.
When it comes to reconstructive surgery, there are often phases to recovery, as the procedures do not always happen at or around the same time. Your recovery periods will vary greatly depending on the extent of your reconstructive needs, so you should speak to your providers about how much recovery time you are likely to need. Surgical procedures can take up to a few weeks for initial healing.
The Right Providers
Obviously, the quality of your care will depend on your surgeons. MOHS and reconstructive surgery are difficult procedures, and you should never cut corners when it comes to your care. Choose board certified, experienced surgeons who have extensive skill, knowledge, and compassion.
Not sure where to start looking for the right providers? Dr. Stuart Bentkover is a skilled and dedicated facial plastic surgeon with expertise in facial reconstruction for skin cancer patients, and has decades of experience. Dr. Bentkover can discuss your needs and diagnosis, and recommend treatment options that will give you the best chance of a successful outcome. If you would like to discuss your case with Dr. Bentkover, call Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery in Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham (617-247-0033), MA to schedule your consultation.