Post-Mohs Reconstruction Surgery
Removing skin cancer with Mohs surgery can be a lifesaving procedure. Unfortunately, it can sometimes leave behind damaged skin tissue. Restoring your skin is possible with post-Mohs skin cancer reconstruction surgery.
Our reconstructive surgeons work closely with oncology colleagues at The University of Kansas Cancer Center to treat melanoma and provide aesthetic reconstruction after skin cancer removal. Our doctors also perform revision surgery for men and women who have suboptimal scarring or healing after previous removal and/or reconstruction of skin cancer defects.
What is post-Mohs reconstruction surgery?
Mohs surgery is an advanced technique that ensures complete removal of facial skin cancers while also minimizing tissue loss. The process microscopically maps out the path of your skin cancer with precision while removing cancerous cells in the tissue 1 layer at a time. With each layer examined, the surrounding areas are checked for cancerous cells until no more cancer cells can be detected.
However, after this complex skin cancer removal, there is often a wound left behind. Post-Mohs skin cancer reconstruction surgery restores both the look and function of your skin after Mohs surgery.
This important procedure is just as valuable as removing the cancer. Many people who have reconstruction surgery feel as though they are fully healed once their skin lesion is repaired. Without the daily reminder of their cancer, they can move on with their normal lives.
Who can have post-Mohs reconstruction?
Nearly any person who has had Mohs surgery can be a good candidate for plastic surgery after Mohs if their cancer treatment has been completed and they are in good overall physical health.
We often see people who have had skin cancer surgery for:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Other nonmelanoma skin cancers
- Squamous cell carcinoma
How does post-Mohs reconstruction surgery work?
Mohs surgery was originally created to help minimize the risk of scarring and the need for additional plastic surgery after cancer removal. However, a percentage of people who get Mohs do require plastic surgery after their skin cancer removal. Our team can assess the wound left after skin cancer surgery and determine the best strategy to repair existing skin defects and restore a natural-looking appearance.
The expertise of a highly trained surgeon is often necessary to precisely and effectively reconstruct the skin tissue. Aesthetics and proper functionality are pivotal to many facial areas affected by cancer, such as the lips, nose and eyes. For this reason, it is essential to choose a surgeon who is experienced in restoring form and function to these areas for the best possible surgical outcome.
Benefits and risks of post-Mohs reconstruction
Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate of all skin cancer surgeries and other treatments for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. However, some of the risks associated with Mohs surgery include the possibility of removing more tissue than originally planned and scar formation. Post-Mohs reconstructive surgery can optimize the appearance of the treatment area to address scarring and other irregularities. This risks of reconstructive surgery are similar to any other surgery, and will be discussed during your consultation.
What happens during post-Mohs reconstruction?
The approach used in reconstructive surgery after skin cancer removal depends on many factors, including the size of the cancerous lesion, the location, the types of tissues affected and the depth of its roots. In general, post-Mohs reconstructive surgery may use:
Flap surgery techniques transplant tissues that still have their blood supply intact from 1 site of the body to another. Flaps are comprised of skin, muscle and fatty tissue. Depending on the best location of donor skin tissue, your surgeon may use local flaps, regional flaps or free flaps.
Individuals who have very minor defects can often benefit from this approach. Primary closure includes letting the skin heal on its own or using sutures to assist with healing.
Skin grafting removes a layer of skin tissue from a donor site and places it over an open wound or defect. Skin grafting is typically used for very superficial defects.
When a facial defect is deep enough to affect the underlying cartilage, a structural graft may be necessary to repair the structure, replace the cartilage and maintain the previous shape. Structural grafting can be necessary when cancer is removed from the ear or the nose, requiring ear reconstruction or nasal reconstruction.
Using these techniques, any scarring or disfigurement left in the skin tissue after Mohs surgery can be repaired or improved to achieve the best aesthetic result.
Depending on the extent of your skin trauma, post-Mohs reconstruction may be performed in multiple stages. With the consultation of Mohs surgeons and oncology experts, our surgeons can formulate the most effective approach to repair the wound and minimize any visual scarring.