Skin Cancer Removal
At Executive Plastic Surgery understand that skin cancer diagnoses are overwhelming and often scary, but we want to help! Skin cancer affects more than 3 million Americans a year, but if caught early, it can be one of the most successful to treat. This means that with routine checks, if you notice something out of the ordinary on your body, talk to your doctor. At our Detroit area office, we can help you through your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. You are not alone in this, and we will be with you each step of the way.
You’ve Received a Diagnosis, What Now?
There are four major surgical techniques for basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) removal, including: excision, Mohs surgery, cryosurgery, and Curettage and electrodesiccation.
What is Excision?
Your surgeon will cut a margin around the tumor site, in an elliptical shape. By doing so, it allows the surgeon to be sure he has reached the whole tumor. After removing it, your skin will then be stitched back together in a line. If the tumor is in a delicate or small area, such as toes or certain parts of the face, and there isn’t enough skin to stitch it back together after the excision, Dr. Khan may use a small skin flap or graft. This will be discussed with you beforehand, when you meet to decide your treatment plan. This technique can be used to treat both melanoma and non-melanoma cancers.
What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is the most common procedure for the removal of SCCs. It works in stages:
1. First, the surgeon removes the visible tumor, then covers the site with a bandage
2. Next, the excised skin is put under a microscope to look for remaining cancer cells.
a. During this time, the patient rests, can use the restroom, or even eat, depending on the length of the procedure. This must, of course, be cleared first with either Dr. Khan or another member of the team
3. If cells are found, the surgeon continues to remove another layer of skin
4. Once again, this layer is looked at under the microscope, and this process continues until no cancer cells remain
5. The surgeon stitches back together the skin, and if need be will use either a skin graft or skin flap depending on the area
Unlike with excision, this procedure often takes more time because the surgeon is pausing to check the cells for cancer. However, it is often the preferred method for trained surgeons in removing aggressive cancers, because it allows them to be exact and certain of complete removal. The Skin Cancer Foundation calls Mohs surgery the “Gold Standard” of nonmelanoma skin cancers. Not only is Mohs effective, boasting up to 99% for never-before-treated skin cancers, it is also cost-efficient.
Who is a Good Candidate for Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is recommended for only some forms of cancer. Specifically, skin cancers that are close together, have unclear borders, or those that are most aggressive. Speak with your doctor to be sure that Mohs is the right procedure for you.
What is Cryosurgery?
Cryosurgery is the use of liquid nitrogen to remove cancer tissue. For external tumors, liquid nitrogen is directly applied to the tissue, which freezes and falls off, forming a scab. For internal tumors, a similar procedure is done and after the nitrogen is applied, the dead cells eventually are reabsorbed by the body. This technique is best for early-stage skin cancers.
What is Curettage and Electrodesiccation?
A curette is a long, thin, surgical instrument with a loop at the end used for scraping away cancer cells. After the curette takes away the visible cancer cells, the doctor then uses an electric needle to cauterize any remaining tumor cells in the area. This process may be repeated if necessary, to ensure that all the tumor is gone. C&E is used primarily for patients with low-risk nonmelanoma cancers. This treatment can be used on more than one tumor in a visit. Afterwards, your doctor will tell you how to treat your surgery site and bandage. The wound should heal in anywhere from two to three weeks.
What about scarring?
With all surgery, there will be some scarring, however we work hard to be sure you’re happy with the way you look. The primary concern is always your health over physical appearance. Depending on the size of the cancer and where it’s located on the body, the scar may be larger or more visible. For procedures such as Curettage and Electrodesiccation, the scar should be much smaller as its less invasive than Mohs.
You may experience some swelling or mild pain or discomfort at the area of incision. However, if you start to experience anything out of the ordinary, reach out to our offices immediately. Some possible complications from these surgeries include:
In extreme cases, one could experience nerve damage, but this is not likely. As always, if you are concerned, please call our office and we will be happy to help you.
Contact Dr. Khan To Discuss What Skin Cancer Removal Treatments May Work Best For You
Please never assume anything about a medical procedure. Ask lots of questions and pay attention to the answers. It is imperative that you receive qualified medical advice about any plastic surgery procedure. You should discuss your health needs at every stage of the process from the initial consultation all the way through recovery. An initial consultation with Dr. Shaher W. Khan (M.D.) will offer you an opportunity to chat about any and all of the questions you have about the process and the surgeries we offer. Dr. Khan serves the entire Detroit metro area. Call 734-419-1615 or contact us to get started finding the right course of treatment for your skin cancer.