Skin Cancer Removal & Reconstruction
For many Australians, skin cancer and the risk of skin cancer are all too familiar subjects. Australia may be renowned for its sun-kissed complexions and love of the outdoors but the majority of the population have not been born with skin types designed to cope with the effects of the sun. The exposure to the sun and the power of the UV rays that are directly impacting on the skin with no Ozone layer to filter is having a significant impact on skin cancer rates in Australia.
Australians have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
Why does skin cancer removal require reconstruction?
To excise a skin cancer, it must be surgically removed. This creates a wound. On occasion, depending upon the size and location of the wound, the wound may be left to heal on its own in a process known as granulating. More frequently when a wound requires surgical repair, it is known as ‘reconstruction’. Reconstruction can lead to faster and more efficient wound healing.
What happens during the skin cancer removal?
To ensure the complete removal of the skin cancer and associated cancerous cells an additional margin of skin will be excised. This area of excision establishes the area, depth and shape of reconstruction that will be required. The surgeons at Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery are experienced in the different reconstruction options that may be required dependent upon the area and location of the wound and to reconstruct the area to provide the best cosmetic result for your skin and appearance.
What reconstruction options are available?
A straight line scar can be used when the skin wound is small and well oriented. The surrounding skin must be loose enough to enable the cancer to be removed and the wound reconstructed with a straight line scar.
A wound reconstruction can involve a flap of skin. The flap is a portion of skin with blood supply still intact. This procedure may be simple or complex depending on the site and size of the excision area. The flap of skin can be twisted and shaped to cover up the segment of missing skin where the skin cancer has been removed.
In a graft, essentially one portion of skin is taken from another area and sutured into place to fill the wound. The success of the graft is reliant open a wound that is accepting of the graft, with plenty of scope for the new blood vessels to grow and adhere and the graft and wound to heal.
Why is the extra margin of skin taken?
Known as ‘margin control’ it is a requirement that all cancers be removed with a margin of ‘normal’ tissue to ensure that any traces of the cancerous tumour are removed. Margin control can have a significant impact on the reconstructive capabilities of a wound. If the margins are considered ‘not clear’, then the tissue that is being used to reconstruct the wound must be re-elevated while the further cancerous affected tissue is removed.
Reconstructive surgery for skin cancer removal is often complex. The nose, ears, lips and eyelids are sensitive areas to perform skin cancer removal on and are also some of the most common areas for skin cancers to occur.
The skilled reconstructive surgeons at Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgeon can repair difficult skin cancer wounds in complex locations with the aim of exceptional functional cancer free sites and cosmetically pleasing results.