Surgery forms the mainstay of treatment for many skin cancers and moles. Cancers such as solid and invasive Basal Cell Cancers, Squamous cell cancers, and abnormal moles should be treated with surgery. Trusting a doctor with years of experience and training is important as this ensures that your skin cancer is completely removed, and your scarring is minimal. Looking after your wound after skin cancer surgery is essential for the best scar results.
Important facts on surgery for skin cancer
Skin surgery is the Gold Standard of treatment for –
In this group of skin cancers, surgery provides the highest cure rate.
Read more about SCC
Read more about BCCs
Read more about Melanomas
Surgery is performed in our operating theatres under very strict Queensland Health Guidelines. You will be given specific instructions prior to skin cancer surgery this includes-
The first step is the use of local anaesthetic to the area, prior to any surgery. All surgical cases at My Skin Clinics are conducted under ‘local’ and not ‘general’ anaesthetic. (I.e.you are fully awake for the procedure.) For patients who are anxious, we can provide mild sedation to make the procedure a more pleasant one!
Depending on the number of skin lesions removed, and the complexity of closure, you will be given an appropriate time slot ranging from 30 minutes to 90 minutes.
After surgery, dressings will be applied, and you will be given instructions on wound care. We will arrange a time for you to return for sutures or stitches to be removed.
All moles and lesions we remove are ‘tested under the microscope’ for final results.
Yes, providing the skin cancer CAN be safely treated with other methods. Only some forms of superficial skin cancers can be safely treated by methods such as Photodynamic Therapy, Aldara, Double Freezing, or cautery.
Examples of skin cancers that can be treated with non- surgical methods include-
Photodynamic Therapy is the most convenient method for treating thin cancers. This involves the use of a special cream concentrated in cancer cells. Following application of the cream, as laser- light source activates the chemical several hours later. Most skin cancers will require 2 treatments spaced a week or two apart.
Read more about Photodynamic Therapy for skin cancers
Flaps and grafts will require more stitches compared to a normal or simple surgical wound. Your skin cancer specialist will tell you the number of sutures after surgery.
Suture removal timings will depend on several factors including the location of the wound the complexity of wound closure.
As a guide-
Suture removal and wound checks are conducted by our Specialist Nurses.
Yes. In some situations we use special self-dissolving sutures- this provides maximal wound strength.
Self-dissolving sutures are used in wounds on the lower limbs and in some operations on the face and scalp.
We consider many other factors such as skin mobility, tension of the wound, wound size and contour, and location of the skin cancer as to whether or not dissolving sutures are used.
Following suture removal, scars are at their weakest, and extra care need to be taken not to over-exert the wound. Scars are often red and inflamed, however with proper taping, cleaning and time, will start to fade.
Complete scar remodelling does not occur for up to 6-12 months following skin surgery.
Looking after you wound is essential after surgery. Our skin cancer doctors will give you helpful instructions to minimise scars after surgery, including-
Proper wound care= Best scar results.
Scarring often fades with time, however if scarring is still significant after a few months, specialist laser dermatologists can fade the scar. Specialists use a variety of scar removal techniques including surgery, steroid injections, ablative and Fractional – Fraxel laser.
Read more about scar revision following surgery
Moh’s surgery is a special form of skin cancer surgery, pioneered in the United States. This type of skin cancer surgery is performed in hospital, under the guidance of a team of Specialist including Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons.
The vast majority of skin cancers will NOT require Moh’s surgery, however if you skin cancer exhibits very aggressive histology and margins involvement, your skin cancer doctor will work in with a Dermatologist- Plastic Surgeon for consideration of ‘margin control.’
This may involve Moh’s with a Dermatologist, or ‘Frozen section control’ under a plastic surgeon such as Dr Eddie Cheng, Dr Andrew Jenkins, Dr Phil Richardson, or Dr James Emmett.
Dr Davin S. Lim
Westside Laser Dermatology
Skin cancer surgery forms the basis of our cancer cure at My Skin Cancer Centre. Surgery is the only option, however in many cases maybe the very best option for a particular type of skin cancer. Skin cancers that are suited to surgery include solid and invasive BCCs, as well as SCCs, moles and melanomas.
Planning your excision with carefully placed incision lines, as well as correct surgical technique, and closures will provide optimal cure rates, whilst minimising scarring.
Most skin cancers require ‘simple surgery’, whilst larger or aggressive skin cancers in areas such as the nose, eyelids, and ears may require more complex closures such as flaps or skin grafts.