A significant portion of plastic surgery patients seek out a plastic surgeon because they need facial reconstruction after an accident or medical procedure. One of the more common procedures requiring facial reconstruction is called Mohs surgery, which is used to remove cancer or tumors from a patient’s skin by carefully excising layers of skin until all the malignant cells are gone. The procedure can leave patients with skin depressions or significant scarring, which is especially problematic if the patient has the procedure on their face. A skilled plastic surgeon can reconstruct a patient’s face so that any evidence of Mohs surgery is significantly diminished or erased completely.
The Different Types of Skin Cancer
More than two million Americans are affected with skin cancer and at least one in five will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer is highly preventable, but it’s also highly treatable if it is detected before it has a chance to spread. There are three different manifestations of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The first two types affect the squamous layer of skin cells, located just below the skin surface, and the basal layer of skin cells, where new cells are manufactured. These types are less dangerous and don’t typically spread, so they’re relatively simple to treat. The third type, melanoma, is much more difficult to treat because it is more aggressive and capable of spreading to your entire body if it isn’t detected early.
How Skin Cancer is Removed
Skin cancer initially presents itself as a change in skin coloring or a lesion. When it is caught early enough, it can be treated by removing the lesion or affected tissue. This can be accomplished through freezing, scraping, and excision. If the cancer has started to spread, Mohs surgery used to remove it from the skin before it can metastasize to the rest of the body.
Mohs surgery involves carefully removing the area of the skin that is affected by the cancer, layer by layer. Every time a layer of skin is removed, a dermatologist analyzes the tissue for the presence of cancer. If cancerous cells are found, another layer is removed and examined. This process is repeated until all traces of cancer are gone. The dermatologist will then remove a couple extra layers of skin to make absolutely sure that no cancerous cells remain. This procedure also helps to map out where the cancer in located.
Depending on the amount of cancer present and the number of layers of skin that need to be removed, Mohs patients can be left with large areas of excised skin. Once the area heals, the patient can be left with significant scarring or skin depressions.
Reconstructing a Mohs Patient’s Face
Ideally, a plastic surgeon will be on hand to begin working on a Mohs patient as soon as the procedure is complete. This works as a preventative measure against facial disfigurement. However, facial reconstruction can be done long after the patient has healed.
There are two main ways a plastic surgeon can reconstruct a patient’s face. The first is using skin flaps. If the area is small enough and there is sufficient healthy tissue, the surgeon can lift the healthy tissue over the Mohs area and suture it into place. The other method involves using skin grafts. The surgeon takes a piece of healthy skin tissue from another area of the patient’s body that has similar texture and skin tone and replaces the damaged tissue. Usually the skin is harvested from somewhere unobtrusive, like behind the patient’s ear. This method requires a surgeon with exceptional skill and artistry in facial reconstruction to avoid disfiguring the patient even further.
Schedule a Facial Reconstruction Consultation with Dr. Bustillo
Dr. Andres Bustillo in Coral Gables, FL has been a plastic surgeon for almost twenty years and has amassed a wealth of skill and knowledge in facial reconstruction. If you will have or have had skin cancer removed through Mohs surgery and would like to know more about how Dr. Bustillo can help, call (305) 663-3380 to schedule a facial reconstruction consultation. Or, if you prefer, you can also send him an email through his Contact page.