The beauty of the skin lies in its ability to heal itself. However, when the skin is damaged by skin cancer, it can result in a skin defect that can be unsightly. Fortunately, Mohs’ surgery has emerged as a gold standard treatment for skin cancer removal. Despite its high success rate, Austin Mohs’ surgery often results in a skin defect that requires reconstruction.
That is where the art and science of plastic surgery come into play. With the help of innovative techniques and technology, you can restore the appearance and function of your skin. Here are five techniques your doctor can employ to help you achieve optimal outcomes.
Primary closure is a technique used to reconstruct skin defects after Mohs’ surgery, where the wound edges are stitched together to close the defect. It is a simple and common technique for small wounds, where the skin can be easily stretched to close the defect. This method is often preferred for defects less than 2 cm in diameter.
These defects should also be located in areas of the body with ample skin laxity. The procedure involves trimming the wound edges and carefully suturing them with small stitches. While primary closure is relatively quick and easy, a skilled plastic surgeon must ensure the wound edges are properly aligned.
When skin defects after Mohs’ surgery are too large to be closed by primary closure, your doctor may recommend skin grafting. This technique involves taking a piece of skin from another body part, the donor site, and transplanting it to cover the wound. Skin grafts are commonly used for larger wounds.
The donor site is usually chosen based on the color and texture of the skin and its proximity to the wound. The graft is then carefully placed over the defect and secured with sutures or staples. Over time, the graft will take root and become a permanent part of the skin.
Local flaps are a technique where a skin flap from a nearby area is moved to cover the defect. The flap remains attached to its original blood supply, which allows it to heal quickly and effectively. This technique is commonly used for larger defects on the face or other cosmetic areas.
Several types of local flaps include advancement flaps, rotation flaps, and transposition flaps. Each of these types of local flaps has its advantages and limitations. Local flaps are often preferred over skin grafts because they provide a better cosmetic outcome and can be used where skin grafts may not be feasible.
Tissue expansion is a technique where additional skin is created to reconstruct the defect. In this technique, a balloon-like device is inserted under your skin near the defect and gradually inflated over time, stretching the skin and creating more tissue. The device is left in place for several weeks or months, allowing the skin to stretch and create new tissue.
Once enough skin has been created, the device is removed, and the newly created skin is used to reconstruct the defect. Tissue expansion is commonly used for large scalp, forehead, and neck defects, with ample skin laxity. While tissue expansion is highly effective, it requires significant time and patience.
Free flaps are a reconstructive technique that involves taking skin and tissue, along with their blood supply, from another part of the body. These tissues are then transplanted to the defect area. Unlike local flaps, which use skin and tissue from nearby areas, free flaps can be taken from distant areas of the body, such as the abdomen, thigh, or back.
This feature makes them a useful option for larger defects or those that involve deeper tissue layers. During the procedure, the blood vessels supplying the flap are carefully reconnected to blood vessels at the defect site using microsurgical techniques. This ensures the flap remains viable and receives the blood supply it needs to heal and integrate into the surrounding tissue.
The reconstruction of skin defects after Mohs’ surgery requires a delicate balance of artistry and science. Working with a qualified surgeon is important if you have recently undergone Mohs’ surgery and require reconstruction. They can guide you through the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Each case is unique, and the choice of technique will depend on the size and location of your defect, the amount of healthy tissue available, and your overall health. However, one thing is certain. With the advances in medical technology and surgical techniques, you can regain your appearance and function, even after the most extensive skin cancer removal procedures.