Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting humans and is most commonly caused by cumulative sun exposure throughout a person’s lifetime. The three main types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The severity of these cancers can range from very small, superficial lesions that can be cured with topical or cryotherapy to large, invasive tumors that can spread throughout the body and require extensive surgical resection and potentially even radiation or chemotherapy.
While many early or pre-cancerous lesions can be treated effectively by dermatologists with topical or non-surgical treatments, more advanced skin cancers require surgical excision for treatment. This poses a particular challenge for skin cancers on the face where scars may be easily visible and have a high impact on facial appearance.
Skin cancers on the face are often excised using the Mohs technique. This is performed by specially trained dermatologists who remove the tumor and examine the tissue under the microscope to assure that all the cancer is removed. This technique spares the most amount of normal skin around a cancer and has the lowest rate of recurrence; two factors that are vital for skin cancers involving the face. Once the cancer is removed, there remains the challenge of how to reconstruct the resulting defect without compromising facial aesthetics or function. Facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons are particularly well suited for this type of reconstruction due to their training in plastic surgery techniques and dedication of their practice to only the face, head, and neck. More