Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery is an essential consideration for patients with advanced skin cancer of the face, head and neck, as well as those affected by traumatic injury to these areas. Diagnosing advanced skin cancer of the face and neck through biopsy–and removing it completely–can involve extensive tissue loss.
Addressing advanced facial skin cancer and severe facial trauma calls for special skills to restore form and function to the structures of your face. The Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery team offers unparalleled skill and compassion to help patients with even the most challenging facial skin cancers and facial injuries.
While there are many skin flaws that can cause a patient to seek out cosmetic procedures, few are as disfiguring as scar tissue. Patients with facial scars are especially prone to distress and may experience a chronic lack of self-confidence.
Surgery for Advanced Skin Cancer: What to Expect Surgery to Remove the Cancer
Surgery is generally performed at an ambulatory surgery center as an outpatient, which means you can go home the same day. Depending on your general health, the surgery may take place in the hospital.
After Dr. Faramarz Shabdiz removes the cancerous tissue and surrounding margins, he will check carefully to see that no cancer remains.
Reconstructing the Face
For facial reconstruction, Dr. Shabdiz’s goal is to achieve the best function and appearance possible. If only a small amount of tissue is removed, Dr. Shabdiz may simply repair the defect with meticulous primary closure. However, for most advanced cancers, thorough removal of all the cancer and its surrounding skin may leave a substantial defect (area of missing tissue).
Dr. Shabdiz may repair the defect with a flap, which is a section of skin or tissue from a nearby area cutaway, stretched and then moved to cover the defect. Or, you may require a skin graft, which involves a patch of skin removed from another part of the body and grafted onto the defect.
Some reconstructions require more than one operation: one to prepare the flap and move it into place, and another to smooth and sculpt the tissue for optimal function and appearance.
All procedures involve a certain amount of risk and limitations. Although the risks of skin cancer reconstruction are low, they can occur: Bleeding, infection, numbness, facial weakness, delayed wound healing, less-than-optimal appearance and other problems may occur. The risks are significantly increased in patients who smoke or those with a history of radiation therapy applied to the face, head or neck.
If Dr. Shabdiz uses a skin graft for reconstruction, you will have a special bandage called a bolster dressing in place, which requires removal 5-7 days after surgery.
Some patients return to work a week or two after their first postoperative visit. However, if you are undergoing a flap procedure or other approach that requires multiple stages, you will likely want to take off several weeks from work.
When your procedures are complete, your scar(s) will be red at first, and the redness will gradually fade over the course of one year. Protecting your face from sun exposure and using sunscreen are critical for minimizing lasting discoloration.