Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, in most cases this is usually by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and unfortunately it is especially prolific in sunny coastal towns like Newcastle.
Often quite treatable if detected early, skin cancer surgery is the most common procedure that we perform at Avery Plastic Surgery. We operate on patients of any age, with any type of skin cancer on any part of the body.
Dr Avery has over a decade of experience in plastic surgery and is highly skilled in all types of skin cancer excisions and reconstructive surgery techniques, skin grafts and flap repairs.
Dr Avery will assess the area of concern and develop a treatment plan. Possible options may include observation and reassessment, topical treatment with a cream or surgery.
At the initial consultation Dr Avery will discuss the nature of the skin cancer you may have and what this means for you now and in the future. Dr Avery will discuss the nature of any surgery that may be appropriate for your skin cancer and also the expected recovery period. Most patients will be able to schedule their surgery at the initial consultation.
There are three common types of skin cancer, all of which we treat here at Avery Plastic Surgery.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Surgery is the most common form of skin cancer treatment and usually involves a simple procedure which takes around 60–90 minutes. Surgery will usually be performed as a day procedure in an accredited hospital. Some patients with more complex skin cancers or will additional medical needs may need to stay in hospital for a short period.
The two key components of skin cancer surgery are 1) complete removal of the skin cancer with some surrounding tissue (a margin) to prevent the risk of recurrence, and 2) closure of the wound to give the best appearance and function. For most patients these two priorities can be achieved in one operation. For a small number of patients due to the size or location of the cancer it may require more than one operation to achieve optimal results.
Depending on the type, size, and location of the skin cancer, reconstructive techniques such as skin grafts or flap repairs may be used after removal to ensure the best aesthetic outcome and minimally-visible scarring.
The levels of pain and discomfort experienced following skin cancer surgery can vary depending on the complexity of the procedure. Skin cancer surgery is generally tolerated very well. Some bruising, swelling, and skin tightness can be expected, which will usually subside within a few days to a week.
In simple cases, patients may return to work and light activities immediately after surgery. Smoking is strongly discouraged during the weeks following skin cancer surgery as it reduces oxygen supply to the area, impeding the wound’s ability to heal.
Scars from skin cancer surgery can vary greatly depending on the size and type of cancer being removed. Different techniques used during surgery such as a skin graft may also affect the scar’s appearance.
It may take 12–18 months before a scar from skin cancer surgery has fully matured and its visibility will depend on how well your skin copes with scarring.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Dr Avery is a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, ASAPS and ASPS. Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.