Skin Cancer of the Eyelids and Face

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Skin cancer of the eyelids and face is often treated surgically.  In many cases the skin cancer is removed by a skin cancer surgery specialist who will ensure that the entire tumor is removed while at the same time creating the smallest possible defect.  Dr. Biesman will then repair the defect in such a manner that the best overall functional and cosmetic outcome is achieved.  These procedures are typically performed on the same day.

Types of Eyelid and Facial Defects

Eyelid defects may be classified as small, medium or large.  Small defects can be closed by stretching adjoining tissues together, medium defects require more extensive surgery and, often, the recruitment of adjacent tissues into the defect; and large defects may require movement of tissue from the opposing eyelid, distant sites and/or the cheeks or forehead.  Facial defects created by the removal of skin cancers may involve any portion of the face.  The type of procedure required to close the defect depends on numerous factors including location of the skin cancer, relative amount of skin laxity, and a variety of other influencing conditions.

What to Expect from Eyelid and Facial Reconstruction

In most circumstances, eyelid and facial reconstruction is performed on an outpatient basis.  Most repairs are performed under local anesthesia, with ‘twilight sleep” anesthesia but more extensive defects may require general anesthesia.  Sutures (stitches) are always used; at times, self-dissolving sutures are used, and in other cases sutures need to be removed after one to two weeks.  Depending on the size and location of the defect, the reconstructive process may require two stages.  In this scenario, the second procedure is typically much less involved than the first and is usually performed three to twelve weeks after the initial reconstruction.

What to Expect after Eyelid and Facial Reconstruction

Recovery after eyelid and facial reconstruction will depend on the nature of the procedure performed.  Following closure of small- or medium-size defects, most patients resume their normal activities within a week or so.  Individuals who work generally choose to take a week off or so.  If removable sutures have been used, they are usually taken out after seven to ten days.  Recovery after closure of large defects may require more time, depending on the extent of the procedure required.  Dr. Biesman will meet with you prior to removal of the skin cancer involving the eyelids or face to discuss the types of outcome that you may expect following treatment.