Facing Facial Cancer

Understanding plastic surgery for skin cancer

skin care examining patientContributed by Ryan Collar, MD

Cancer is always scary, whether it is in your lungs or brain or on your skin. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, and while it can appear anywhere on the body, including under fingernails or on the soles of the feet, it occurs most often in areas frequently exposed to the sun, like the neck, ears, nose and face.

In the case of facial cancers, patients are often concerned by the impact the cancer may have on their longevity, of course, but may also be concerned that surgical removal of the cancer may negatively affect their appearance or even be disfiguring.

To rebuild these facial features lost in the process of the cancer removal, your plastic surgeon will rely on both principled thinking and creativity. He or she may use some of our natural “spare parts”—well-matched tissue or skin from other parts of the body, like ear cartilage, forehead or cheek skin, or the lining of the nose. Sometimes transplanted tissue from distant sites is needed in more complex cases. Although this process may seem unsettling, as an aesthetic and reconstructive surgeon, I want to reassure you that in almost all cases, we can restore people’s facial characteristics and allow them to return confidently to their everyday lives. This is always our goal.

I know these summer months are perfect for 18 holes of golf, long days at the pool and weekends spent at baseball games. All of those activities are wonderful, but there is no doubt about it, the more you are exposed to sun, the greater your chances of facial cancer. So, go outside, play tennis, weed your garden, go for a walk. But please wear sunscreen.

And don’t be fooled. Sun lamps and tanning beds can be just as dangerous. In fact, researchers from the National Cancer Institute blame artificial UV sources for the rapid rise in malignant melanoma among young women.

If you notice a change in the appearance of your skin like a new growth or sore that doesn’t heal within two weeks or if you have any questions about the color, size or shape of a mole, please call us at (513) 475-UC4U (8248).

To learn more about the skin care and cosmetic surgery services offered in the Women’s Center or to schedule an appointment with Ryan Collar please call (513) 475-UC4U (8248).

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