Skin Cancer Surgery

Skin Cancer Reconstruction: Restoring Skin Appearance and Function Post Skin Cancer Removal

Introduction to Skin Cancer Reconstruction

Skin cancer reconstruction refers to the surgical procedures performed to restore the appearance and function of the skin after skin cancer removal. The extent and type of reconstruction used depends on the size, site, and depth of the excised cancer, as well as the patient's specific needs.

Common Techniques Used for Skin Cancer Reconstruction

Primary Closure

For smaller skin cancers, the wound edges may be closed directly by bringing the edges of the healthy skin together with sutures or other closure methods. This technique is suitable when there is enough adjacent healthy skin available to cover the wound without too much tension.

Skin Grafts

Skin grafting involves taking a piece of skin from one area of the body (the donor site) and transferring it to the wound site. Skin grafts are commonly used for larger wounds or areas where there is a lack of healthy skin nearby to close the wound. These skin grafts are commonly taken from the thigh (split thickness skin graft) or around the ear, neck or inner upper arm (full thickness skin graft).

Local Flaps

Local flaps involve rearranging nearby healthy skin and tissue to cover the wound. Local flaps generally provide better colour and texture match compared to skin grafts.

Regional or Free Flaps

In complex cases or when reconstruction of a large area is required, larger flaps of skin from other parts of the body may be utilised. These techniques are only necessary in a small number of cases.

Key Details of the Procedure

  • Duration: 20 to 60 minutes
  • Cost: $2000 upwards
  • Anaesthetic: Local or General depending on extent of surgery and your preference
  • Length of stay: Usually day surgery

Post-Surgery Care and Downtime

  • Showering: Usually okay to shower area 48 hours after surgery
  • Exercise: Light exercise okay the day after most skin cancer surgeries. Avoid strenuous exercise for 1 week.
  • Driving: Okay to drive on same day if local anaesthetic surgery. If general anaesthetic, driving should be avoided for 24 hours.
  • Work: Can return to light work the following day in most cases.

Frequently Asked Questions about Skin Cancer Reconstruction

What factors influence the type of skin cancer reconstruction technique used?

The size, site, and depth of the excised cancer, as well as the patient's specific needs, influence the type of skin cancer reconstruction technique used. Mr Butler will assess your specific situation and recommend the most suitable technique.

How long does it take to recover from skin cancer reconstruction surgery?

Recovery time varies depending on the extent of the surgery and the individual patient. However, most patients can return to light work the day after surgery and resume light exercise. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for at least a week.

Are there any risks associated with skin cancer reconstruction?

Like any surgical procedure, skin cancer reconstruction carries potential risks, including infection, bleeding, scarring, and adverse reactions to anaesthesia. Mr Butler will discuss these risks with you during your consultation.

Can skin cancer reconstruction be performed at the same time as skin cancer removal?

Yes, in many cases, skin cancer reconstruction can be performed immediately after skin cancer removal. This approach can help minimise the number of surgeries and overall recovery time.