Plastic surgery is done on people of all ages for a number of reasons. An injury, abnormality, or disease can change the appearance of your body and cause distress, especially if it's your face that's involved. One condition that can cause facial disfigurement is skin cancer. Your doctor may not even know how much tissue has to be removed until the surgery starts. You might be left with a deep wound or scar that doesn't heal properly. Here's how a plastic surgeon can help in those cases.
Plastic Surgery Can Immediately Follow Cancer Removal
While it's possible for a plastic surgeon to correct disfigurement caused by skin cancer removal, there are times when plastic surgery is done along with the cancer removal so you have a good chance at healing with the least detectable scar. First, the cancer has to be cut out, and when cancer is on your face, the doctor may use the Mohs technique. This surgery removes tiny layers of tissue at a time and tests them for the presence of cancer cells. In this way, the doctor knows exactly how much tissue to remove so the least amount can be taken.
The Mohs procedure can reduce the risk of bad scarring, but it depends on how deep the cancer has grown. It may still be necessary to follow the cancer removal with plastic surgery to fill the depression left behind and close the skin in a way that minimizes scarring.
The Surgeon Eliminates The Depression Or Hole
When a large mass of cancer is removed, a hole or depression is left behind on your face. This has to be filled in with other tissue and skin. One way to do that is to cut into tissue surrounding the wound and move it into the hollow area. This is done in a way to create a natural contour on your face. The plastic surgeon may cut a skin flap so nearby tissue can be reached and then stitch the flap closed when done. If the skin cannot be closed properly over the area, then a skin graft may be needed that uses skin from elsewhere on your body to cover the wound.
If the depression left behind after the surgery isn't very big, the plastic surgeon might be able to fill the area and close the skin just by using stitches and pulling the skin tight in the right way. The surgeon has to see the results of your skin cancer removal and then determine the best way to proceed with your procedure.
Plastic Surgery Minimizes Scarring
Your plastic surgeon performs the surgery with the appearance of the scar in mind. This involves pulling the skin at the proper angle and putting the stitches in where the scar follows other lines and wrinkles in your face. However, the type of skin you have affects how well you heal without scarring. If you develop scars that bother you in the future, it's possible the surgeon can do another procedure to correct the problem. Plastic surgery is sometimes done in stages so you get the best results as the reconstruction heals.