May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a great reminder that summer days in the sun are around the corner, and it’s time to think about protecting yourself from skin cancer.
Most skin cancers are preventable with sunscreen and protective clothing. If you’re not diligent about applying sunscreen and cancer develops, there’s only one treatment: removing the cancer. Then you need expert wound repair or reconstruction.
When your skin cancer removal is done by Dr. Mark Mathieson at Sterling Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, PA, in Sarasota, Florida, your appearance is always a top concern. With his expertise in reconstruction, you can depend on exceptional results that maintain your natural beauty.
Removing skin cancer
The best way to remove skin cancer depends on the type of cancer and if it’s in an early stage. Here are two of the most common procedures:
An excision refers to cutting out the visible cancer and removing a margin of healthy tissue from around the cancer site. This technique ensures that Dr. Mathieson gets rid of any cancer cells that may have spread out from your original cancerous growth.
Curettage and electrodessication
During this procedure, Dr. Mathieson removes your skin cancer using a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette. After the growth is out, he treats the area with an electric current (electrodessication), which stops bleeding and destroys any remaining cancer cells.
Wound size following skin cancer treatment
The size of your wound determines the type of repair you will need. Skin cancer that’s treated at an early stage can leave such a small wound that you only need a bandage.
You can also end up with a large wound when your skin cancer has time to grow. Melanoma and basal cell carcinoma are the skin cancers most likely to cause a significant wound:
Removing melanoma is often a more extensive procedure because this type of skin cancer spreads to other parts of your body. In some cases, Dr. Mathieson also needs to remove your sentinel lymph node — the first lymph node cancer cells reach if your melanoma starts to metastasize.
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma can grow deep down into your skin, where it damages nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues in its path. If it gets too large, it can even reach the underlying bone. Removing an advanced basal cell growth can leave a large, disfiguring wound that requires reconstruction.
When your wound is small enough, Dr. Mathieson only needs to bring the edges together and hold them in place with a bandage or a few stitches. If the excision is too wide or deep to close the edges of your wound, you need reconstruction.
The techniques used for reconstruction include:
If the wound isn’t too deep, Dr. Mathieson can take a piece of skin from another part of your body and place it over the wound. He may only need to use a thin layer of skin, or he may do a full-thickness graft, taking a complete section of skin rather than just the upper layers.
Skin flaps are the best choice when you have an extensive wound. Dr. Mathieson may use tissues near the excision site or take the flap from another part of your body.
When he removes a skin flap, he keeps the fat, muscle, and blood vessels attached to the skin. As a result, he has a substantial piece of tissue that he can use to fill in and reshape your wound.
Dr. Mathieson also connects the blood vessels in the flap to those near your wound. This ensures the tissues stay alive and healthy.
Bone and cartilage grafting
If your cancer damages bone or cartilage, Dr. Mathieson takes small pieces of these tissues from a donor site on your body and shapes it to fit your excision site.
If you need skin cancer removal, wound care, or reconstructive surgery, you need an exceptional plastic surgeon like Dr. Mark Mathieson on your cancer care team. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment, call our office or email us through our website today.