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Reconstructive Surgery Following Skin Cancer Treatment
Restore Form & Function While Improving the Appearance of Scars/Damaged Tissue!
Skin cancer occurs when cancer forms in the tissues of the skin, and although skin cancer can be devastating, it’s one of the easiest types of cancer to catch early on. When skin cancer is caught early, it’s fairly simple to remove moles and other growths resulting from cancer; however, in some cases, reconstructive surgery is necessary.
Although cancer might appear to be on the skin’s surface, it has typically penetrated several layers by the time it is removed. As a result, even patients with the brightest prognosis often find themselves with cosmetic “defects” after treatment.
Fortunately, those changes to the skin can be significantly improved or even almost completely reversed through reconstructive surgery. Dr. Streitmann helps patients to enjoy a boost to their self-esteem and confidence by correcting any unwanted marks resulting from skin cancer surgery.
With help, post-operative skin cancer patients can enjoy total reconstruction of the affected areas. This allows them to restore the natural look of skin and significantly reduce scars and other issues.
Michael J. Streitmann, M.D. offers reconstructive surgery to restore form and function after cancer-related treatments. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, give us a call at 832-664-7297 or send us an email at email@example.com.
Benefits of Skin Cancer Reconstruction
After being treated for skin cancer, most patients start looking for ways to heal without significant scarring, especially when areas of the face, such as the nose, forehead, and ears, are involved. When you’re looking to remove or repair any scars or damaged tissue, reconstructive surgery is a great option to help you:
- Relieve any potential discomfort resulting from tension of the skin
- Normalize the way your skin functions
- Improve the appearance of scars or damaged tissue
- Increase your confidence and self-image
Dealing with skin cancer and the subsequent surgery is challenging enough. There is no reason why you should have to also deal with the skin marks and “defects” that often accompany such procedures. With reconstructive help from Dr. Michael J. Streitmann, you don’t have to.
Reconstructive Surgery For Skin Cancer: An Overview
Dr. Streitmann specializes in reconstructive surgery targeting the face, and will work with your dermatologist to get the best possible results. Depending on your needs, you can conduct the surgery all at once or through a staged approach.
It may be necessary to borrow tissue from elsewhere in the body to completely restore your appearance. To determine the best approach, the location, size, orientation, and depth of the skin defect must be monitored and the right skin flap or graft determined. Diagnostic imaging may be needed to ensure an ideal outcome.
Replacing The Skin
It’s essential to select a skin donation site that matches the complexion and texture of the treatment area, so local skin is chosen when possible. Surgery is typically possible the next day after Mohs surgery for cancer removal. The following are the typical steps for this procedure:
- Anesthesia: You will either be administered medication to put you to sleep, or medicine will be delivered to the site to numb the area. We select the best medication based on your needs and medical circumstances.
- Skin Donation: Streitmann will harvest skin tissue from the donor site. As described above, this is chosen to match the graft site as naturally as possible.
- Skin Graft: The donor skin is positioned over the wound site. If necessary, an incision may be made to achieve the optimal shape and smoothness. The graft is then sutured in place, and the wound is dressed.
- Results: The final step is to see the results. Once the initial healing and recovery process is done, you will be able to see how the area has a smoother, more balanced look.
An unfortunate reality of skin cancer is that both the disease and the treatment can cause unwanted changes to the skin. While surgical treatment is highly effective at removing cancerous cells, patients often want to correct the aesthetics as well. The goal of surgery is to return the affected area as closely as possible to how it looked prior to the development of skin cancer. Patients should prepare for surgery after a complete talk with Dr. Streitmann, disclosing any cardiovascular or bleeding disorders.
Once the reconstructive surgery is complete, you’re able to return to normal function the day following the procedure, however, the area will be dressed to help wounds heal quickly, then the sutures will be removed approximately one week after the surgery is performed – leaving you with natural, smooth skin.
Preparing For A Reconstructive Procedure After Mohs Surgery
Reconstruction best practices sometimes differ depending on the type of cancer treatment employed. If you are recovering after undergoing Mohs surgery, it may be necessary to temporarily discontinue certain medications.
Depending on the seriousness of surgery, it may be performed with local or general anesthesia. It is done on an outpatient basis, and you will be able to return home the same day. You will need to bring someone you trust to drive you.
As with any surgery, you should plan recovery time. There will be minor bruising and swelling immediately after the procedure. You can usually shower after 48 hours, but should avoid fully submerging any surgical incisions for two or three weeks.
Most patients feel significantly better after a week but are not ready to return to work until two weeks have passed. You should avoid vigorous exercise for about six weeks. Skin grafts may take slightly longer than local skin flaps to achieve full blood supply and natural appearance.
Before the Procedure – The Consultation
As with any plastic surgery procedure, skin cancer reconstructive surgery starts with a consultation. During this time, Dr. Streitmann will meet with you and discuss the situation, his recommendations, and what to expect.
He will ensure that you are healthy enough for the procedure and are otherwise a good candidate. During this time, he may also discuss whether other options, such as a non-surgical treatment, may be an option for you. Every patient has slightly different results from skin cancer removal. It is our priority to recommend the right options for your unique needs.
During this time, the doctor will address any of your concerns. If you have questions, consider writing them down beforehand. These are some commonly asked questions for the consultation:
- What will be expected of me to ensure the best outcomes?
- What are my risk factors for this procedure?
- How long of a recovery period should I expect?
- Which treatments will help me achieve the best results?
After Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery
Following your procedure, the site may be sore and red. It may also drain small amounts of fluid. We will provide specific recovery instructions and discuss what you should expect.
The wound site will be dressed and treated during the procedure. We will provide instructions on how to continue to care for it while you recover. Many patients spend most of the first week focused on recovery. They typically return to their everyday routines after about two weeks.
As scarring is a concern with any surgical procedure, we will provide some interventions for minimizing the appearance and size of any scars. This can include normal topical wound care as well as more advanced procedures, including aesthetic treatments such as dermabrasion. Our goal is to ensure your total satisfaction.
Reconstructive Surgery FAQs
How Effective Are Skin Cancer Reconstruction Procedures?
This procedure can be highly effective for reconstructing skin after a skin cancer removal. This is a well-established treatment that is performed regularly. Most patients are very happy with the results and find that they are a significant improvement over the previous state. However, it is important to note that, depending on the extent of the damage from the removal, the reconstructed results may not be perfect. Dr. Streitmann will discuss what you can realistically expect during your consultation.
Is Skin Cancer Reconstruction Painful?
The procedure is not typically painful. We will use either local or general anesthesia to help manage any pain during the procedure. During the recovery period, the site may be uncomfortable. However, this is usually relatively mild and can be managed with over-the-counter medication. If necessary, Dr. Streitmann may prescribe different pain medications.
How Long Is the Recovery Period After Reconstructive Surgery?
As with any surgical procedure, there is a recovery period following skin cancer reconstruction. For most patients, there is minor bruising and swelling immediately after the procedure. Within about 48 hours, you should be able to shower normally. However, you should avoid submerging the wound for up to three weeks.
Typically, patients feel significantly recovered within a week and ready to return to normal day-to-day life after two weeks. The full recovery process may take up to two months or more, depending on the extent of the surgery. Patients should avoid any vigorous exercise for six weeks.
What Are the Complications for Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery?
Like any surgery, skin cancer reconstruction carries some risks and possible complications. However, there are quite rare. The following are some of the main risks:
- Poor Healing: Sometimes wound sites heal poorly. This may require an additional procedure to correct. We mitigate this and other risks by applying the best plastic surgery techniques.
- Infection: All surgeries carry a risk of infection. We manage this by using antibiotics during and after the procedure.
- Anesthesia Risks: General anesthesia carries some risks. Additionally, patients may have a reaction to a local anesthetic. We manage both risks with a careful exam and medical history.
- Allergic Reaction: Rarely, patients have allergic reactions to tapes, medicine, glues, or other surgical products. Again, a good medical history can avoid this risk.
- Change in Sensitivity: Any surgical procedure, especially those on the skin, may change the sensitivity in the area. This often subsides with time.
- Graft Not Taking: Sometimes, skin grafts do not “take” properly. This is rare when using surgical best practices. However, if it does happen, a follow-up procedure may be necessary.
Is Anesthesia Used for Plastic Surgery After Cancer Removal?
Yes, anesthesia is used to help manage the pain during this procedure. Depending on the extent of the surgery needed, either general anesthesia or local anesthetic may be used. We will determine the appropriate pain management plan before your procedure.
Are There Non-Graft Options?
Yes, we can offer several non-surgical procedures that may help with the appearance of the skin. These are most effective for relatively mild skin marks following a cancer removal procedure. Dr. Streinmann will discuss whether any of these options could help you.
What Types of Skin Defects Can Be Corrected?
Skin cancer reconstructive surgery is highly effective at treating a wide variety of skin defects from cancer removal surgery. This can range from small skin flap adjustments to skin grafts to major facial reconstructive surgery. During your consultation, Dr. Streitmann will discuss your current situation and your goals for reconstructive surgery. He can provide guidance on what results you should expect.