Regardless of age, race, or skin type, anyone can develop skin cancer. Areas of skin that are exposed to the sun are the most common sites for skin cancer, but cancer can form anywhere on the body.
Timely intervention is key to prevent skin cancer from becoming more severe. Preliminary treatment often consists of surgical excision, but this can result in unsightly scarring.
Double board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Joshua Hyman has extensive experience performing excision of skin cancer and scar revision and reconstruction of affected areas. Please call 212-517-5157 for your initial consultation. Dr. Hyman serves patients in Manhattan, New York City, and nearby areas of New York.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer refers to a group of conditions where abnormal cells form in the outermost layer of the skin. Within this layer of skin (known as the epidermis) are squamous cells, basal cells, melanocytes, and other cells. The most common cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet light. Chiefly, this means sun exposure as well as artificial sources like tanning lamps, although exposure to radiation and certain chemicals may also increase the risk.
The three leading types of skin cancer are:
- Basal cell carcinoma: The most common variety of skin cancer, generally presenting as brown, red, or pink raised bumps that may take on a sheen; lesions may bleed easily
- Squamous cell carcinoma: Lesions may be crusty or scaly and take on a red, irritated appearance
- Melanoma: The most serious kind of skin cancer; may present as a dark, irregularly shaped, or asymmetrical lesion similar to a mole
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 5 million cases of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Because of its close association with UV radiation exposure, skin cancer often develops in areas such as:
- The scalp
- The forehead, brow, and the space around the eyes
- The ears
- The nose
- The lips
- The neck
However, skin cancer may also develop on other sun-exposed areas like the hands and arms, the chest, the back, and the legs and feet. And, while less common, skin cancer may form on parts of the body that see little to no sun as well.
Treatment for Skin Cancer
Diagnosis of skin cancer involves a physical examination of your skin. If the doctor finds anything suspicious, a small sample will be removed and examined under a microscope (biopsy). In the event that this sample contains cancer cells, you may require additional testing to assess the stage and extent of the cancer.
In some cases, the biopsy may remove the abnormal cells entirely and reveal clean edges. Should this happen, additional procedures may not be required. However, if additional procedures are recommended, your doctor may discuss surgical excision.
Excision is often an ideal option for melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma. During this skin cancer removal procedure, Dr. Hyman will take the following steps:
- Numb the site with a local anesthetic. You will be awake and alert during the procedure, but you will feel little to no discomfort.
- Remove (excise) cancerous tissue on the surface of the skin and in the epidermis. The results of the biopsy will help Dr. Hyman determine how wide the incision should extend and how deep the excision needs to be.
- Close the incision. Dr. Hyman will take steps to minimize scarring, and he will provide you with instructions on how to care for the site so it heals properly. However, in most cases, skin cancer excision will leave a scar.
After your initial excision procedure, you will visit Dr. Hyman again for removal of your sutures. He will examine the site to ensure proper healing, as well as discuss reconstructive options.
Reconstruction after Skin Cancer
By catching skin cancer early and taking prompt action, you increase the likelihood that excision will remove all of the dangerous cells. But, considering that skin cancer most often appears on areas that are difficult to conceal (such as the face, head, and neck), many patients feel self-conscious about the scars left by the skin cancer removal.
Following the removal of a skin cancer lesion, reconstruction may be necessary to restore the normal contour of the skin or face. Dr. Hyman is adept at a wide range of facial cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, as well as scar revision on other areas of the body.
Reconstruction diminishes the scars left by the excision surgery. Although the procedure won't fully restore the way you looked before the skin cancer was removed, it can improve both the appearance of the scarred area and your self-confidence.
If Dr. Hyman performed your skin cancer excision, he will monitor healing of the surgical site and advise you when the time might be right to consider reconstruction. If you underwent excision or another procedure, such as Mohs surgery, with a different provider, Dr. Hyman can advise you of your reconstruction options at the initial consultation.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation
Dr. Joshua B. Hyman is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He has extensive training and experience with revision and reconstruction of scars, including those involving the removal of skin cancer.
Please call 212-517-5157 for a private consultation with Dr. Hyman. Our double board-certified plastic surgeon serves patients in Manhattan, New York City, and nearby areas of New York. His considerable surgical skill is at your disposal for reconstruction and excision, and Dr. Hyman can refer you to a qualified dermatologist as needed.