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Skin Cancer Reconstruction
Skin cancer is most often removed surgically, and depending on how much the cancer has progressed will determine how effective various treatment methods will be. Most instances of skin cancer occur in the upper extremities, and tumors can be removed without damaging normal skin. Surgery, scraping and heating or freezing the tumor can often be performed under a local anesthetic, but depending on how long the skin cancer has been left untreated can cause it to grow and spread, resulting in marked disfigurement.
Plastic surgery is most often associated to cosmetic procedures like breast implants and facelifts, but reconstructive plastic surgery has played an important role in helping patients that have suffered from cancer. Once the skin cancer has been completely removed, a plastic surgeon is able to consult with the patient on ways to allow reconstruction. Most skin cancer patients will seek reconstruction for their face and neck and surgeons will try to return the patient's physical appearance back to what it was prior to the skin cancer as best as possible.
Some skin cancer reconstruction can be simply performed once the skin cancer has been removed, but larger skin cancers, as well as skin cancers in visually critical areas of the face, can require a reputable and experienced reconstructive plastic surgeon to deliver the expertise a patient deserves. New techniques have been developed, helping to improve appearance and allowing a more effective skin cancer reconstruction to occur, including skin grafting and complex facial flaps.
There are ways of camouflaging scars after reconstructive surgery to help the patient's overall appearance. Procedures like scar revision, dermabrasion and laser resurfacing can have a positive effect on a skin cancer patient trying to move on and return to normal activities without feeling the physical signs are drawing attention.
Even after a successful reconstruction, the patient will need to continue with follow up appointments to make sure the skin cancer does not reoccur or suspicious lesions develop. Skin cancer prognosis depends heavily on diagnosing it in its earliest stages and preventing it from worsening. There are exciting advances and promising research in the works for skin cancer, including new tests to better detect the spread of melanoma to lymph nodes and can help identify which patients need more than surgery.
Skin cancer has become the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and an estimated one million cases of skin cancer occur each year. Aside from the well-known serious health risks extended and unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays exists, there are also cosmetic reasons to avoid too much sun. Exposure to the sun promotes photo aging or premature aging of the skin, including wrinkles and brown spots.