Introduction to Skin Cancer Reconstruction

The removal of skin cancer with Mohs surgery can be a lifesaving procedure, but it unfortunately can also leave behind damaged skin tissue. Restoring your skin is possible with Skin Cancer Reconstruction in Scottsdale, AZ. At Plastic Surgery Scottsdale, Dr. Alexander Golger and his team will work closely with oncology doctors to treat the melanoma at the source and provide aesthetic reconstruction after skin cancer removal. Dr. Golger also performs revision surgery for men and women who have suboptimal scarring or healing after previous removal and/or reconstruction of skin cancer defects.

Man sitting in a chair | skin cancer reconstruction surgery | Plastic Surgery Scottsdale
Man outdoors looking into the distance | skin cancer reconstruction surgery | Plastic Surgery Scottsdale

What is Skin Cancer Reconstruction?

Skin Cancer Reconstruction is a cosmetic procedure that, while not always required after Mohs, is a very important follow-up procedure for many patients, and is just as valuable as skin cancer removal. Many patients who have reconstruction surgery feel as though they are fully healed once their skin lesion is repaired since there is no longer the daily reminder of their cancer, allowing them to move on with their normal lives.

Mohs surgery microscopically maps out the path of your skin cancer with precision while removing cancerous cells in the tissue, one layer at a time. With each layer examined, the surrounding areas are checked for cancerous cells until no more cancer cells are detected, but very often, there is a wound left behind.

Although Mohs surgery was created to minimize the risk of scarring and the need for additional plastic surgery, there is a percentage of people who require plastic surgery. Dr. Golger can assess the wound left after skin cancer surgery and determine the best strategy to repair existing skin defects and restore a natural-looking appearance.

Depending on the size of the cancerous lesion, the location, the types of tissues affected, and the depth of its roots, Dr. Golger may utilize one or more of the following techniques for your Scottsdale Skin Cancer Reconstruction:

Flap Surgery

Flap Surgery is the most common type of reconstruction performed for most skin cancer defects, which involves using skin that is immediately adjacent to the site of the cancer. There are a number of different types of local flaps that each have different designs and specific methods of movement. The exact type of flap chosen is based on the location and size of the defect left after skin cancer removal, along with the unique characteristics of the skin in that location.

All local flaps involve extending incisions from the original cancer defect to allow for a flap of skin to be rotated or advanced to cover the defect. The final shape of the scar created may have an irregular shape (as opposed to a straight line) and the scar length may be quite a bit longer than the size of the original defect. The primary goal is to re-drape the skin smoothly and hide scarring as much as possible in existing facial lines and creases.

Some of the advantages of flap surgery include a closer color and contour match, and it can be designed with the best thickness to match the depth of the cancer defect. Typically following flap repair, sutures will remain in place for up to one week and will be removed in the office at follow-up.

Primary Closure

Primary Closure using sutures is the most straightforward method when repairing a skin cancer defect. This technique converts the wound from a circular opening to a linear scar. The wound will first be made longer to allow the edges to come together evenly and avoid skin bunching, with the final scar tending to be two to three times the length of the original defect. A longer scar with smooth skin edges is often less visible than a shorter scar with bunched edges.

There are natural lines that correspond to tissue elasticity called relaxed skin tension lines (RSTL). When incisions are placed in the same direction as these lines, the scars blend in much better and are less visible than incisions that are placed across these lines. Dr. Golger takes a great amount of care when selecting the best orientation of the final scar concerning these skin lines, as well as the scar’s proximity to your surrounding facial structures.

Skin Graft

Skin Grafting involves removing skin from one portion of the body to repair a defect in another location. Skin grafts can be taken as partial thickness (shaving off the very top layer of skin without an incision) or full thickness (surgically removed and sutured closed). Partial thickness grafts tend to heal with significant contraction and may appear lighter in color and shinier than the surrounding skin, so they may be utilized in certain locations, but are rarely the first choice for repairing defects.

One advantage of skin grafts includes avoiding extending or placing additional incisions at the skin cancer removal site which are designed to perfectly match the shape of the defect. Commonly selected sites include high on the forehead, behind or just in front of the ear, or low on the neck. Dr. Golger will carefully choose the location of the donor tissue that has the best color, surface, and thickness to match the cancer defect. One of the key disadvantages of skin grafting is the limited color and contour match to the skin; since the skin is taken from a different location on the body, the match isn’t always seamless.

During surgery, Dr. Golger will remove the graft and suture the incision closed in a fine line. He then takes the removed skin and sutures it into its new location. This can be a very quick and reliable method to repair some facial defects. A special dressing called a “bolster” is often placed at the time of surgery and sewn in place to prevent the graft from moving. This is typically kept for one week and is then removed in the office at follow-up.

Skin grafts can only be used to repair fairly shallow cancer defects because taking a very thick graft decreases the chance of it receiving enough new blood supply to survive following the procedure. Despite these limitations, a skin graft provides a very reliable and good aesthetic outcome without the need for lengthening incisions around the defect and keeps the operative time short.

Using these techniques, any scarring or disfigurement left in the skin tissue after Mohs surgery can be repaired or improved to achieve the best aesthetic result. During your consultation, Dr. Golger will discuss the pros and cons of each approach.

Who are the best candidates for the Skin Cancer Reconstruction procedure?

Nearly any person who has had Mohs surgery can be a good candidate for Skin Cancer Reconstruction in Scottsdale if their cancer treatment has been completed, they are in good overall physical health, and they maintain realistic expectations. We often see people who have had skin cancer surgery for:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Other nonmelanoma skin cancers
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

What’s the First Step?

After you have had your Mohs surgery and the cancer has been removed, if you are looking to cover up the defect from the procedure, your first step is to contact Plastic Surgery Scottsdale and schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Golger. When you come into our office, Dr. Golger will answer any questions you have and examine the area of treatment to determine the best technique(s) to use. He will ask you questions regarding your surgical history, your medical history, and lifestyle. It is very important to be open and honest during your consultation so that not only can we help you achieve optimal results, but also avoid any unnecessary risks.

If you are satisfied with with direction of your Skin Cancer Reconstruction consultation, Dr. Golger will create your surgical plan. Our Patient Coordinator will help you schedule your procedure date and provide you with some instructions to follow. It is very important to follow all pre and post-op directions to achieve the best results.

What to expect on the day of Skin Cancer Reconstruction surgery

On the day of your Skin Cancer Reconstruction in Scottsdale, AZ, you will first meet with Dr. Golger one more time so that he can review your procedure and answer any final questions. You will then be sedated using general anesthesia so that your procedure will be painless. Once you are sedated, Dr. Golger will use one of the previously mentioned techniques to perform your surgery. Once finished, you will be moved into our recovery room where we can monitor you until you wake up from sedation.

Depending on the techniques used and the extent of your surgery, it can take up to 4 hours or longer. Dr. Golger will be able to give you a better idea of how long your procedure will take after you come in for your consultation.

Skin Cancer Reconstruction recovery

After you are released from our care that same day, you will be able to return home and rest in comfort. You will need a friend or family member to be able to drive you home, and possibly help you around the house for the next day or two. There will be some minor bruising and swelling, and potentially some pain immediately after surgery, but we will provide you with directions on how to alleviate any discomfort.

Any individual who is affected by skin cancer should have regular follow-ups with a Dermatologist experienced in skin cancer to watch carefully for cancer recurrence or the development of a new cancer. Dr. Golger will also have you return for regular follow-ups so he can closely monitor your healing process.

The healing period for all incisions can take up to one year to be fully complete. Even after healing is complete, Dr. Golger may suggest other cosmetic procedures that will help optimize the outcome and minimize the appearance of scarring.

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What are the benefits of
Skin Cancer Reconstruction?

Dr. Golger has seen our patients enjoy the following benefits from a Scottsdale Skin Cancer Reconstruction:

  • Accurate and precise repair
  • Effective treatment for difficult-to-treat areas
  • Fast healing time
  • Improved cosmetic results
  • Preserves of healthy tissue

How much does Skin Cancer Reconstruction cost in Scottsdale, AZ?

The cost of Skin Cancer Reconstruction in Scottsdale is widely determined by the extent of the skin cancer, the desired outcome, the specific techniques used, and the number of procedures necessary to meet your goals, among other things. The best way to find out how much it will cost for you is to come in for your initial consultation and let Dr. Golger create your surgical plan. Once made, our Patient Coordinator will be able to show you the price breakdown for your procedure.

Why Choose Dr. Golger?

Dr. Alexander Golger, B.Ed., MD, FRCS(C), is a gifted Scottsdale plastic surgeon who has completed many years of advanced training at prestigious universities and hospitals. As a board-certified plastic surgeon with the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), Dr. Golger applies his extensive academic education and clinical experience to every procedure he performs in order to deliver exceptional aesthetic results.

Dr. Golger earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, followed by completing a five-year medical residency at the highly recognized Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Toronto. In addition to helping his cosmetic surgery patients achieve their aesthetic goals, Dr. Golger is frequently asked to share his knowledge and insights at national and international surgeons’ conferences.

Eyelid Surgery Model | Plastic Surgery Scottsdale
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Schedule Your Consultation

If you or someone you know has facial scars and/or defects from MOH surgery and are interested in an aesthetical makeover, please do not delay in reaching out to Plastic Surgery Scottsdale. Dr. Alexander Golger will be able to recommend the right approach to restore your face and reverse the impact of skin cancer, helping you arrive at your unique aesthetic and functional goals and concerns. Don’t delay your recovery, contact us today for your Skin Cancer Reconstruction in Scottsdale, AZ!

Skin Cancer Reconstruction FAQ’s

Your procedure questions answered.

Genuine and Talented

I had an abdominoplasty done by Dr Golger here almost 2 years ago and realized I never left a review. Everyday Im so thankful for the confidence its given me. Dr Golger is one of the most professional, genuine and talented doctors Ive encountered.

Extremely Happy

My experience with Dr. Golger, and his team was a dream! From the consultation to the post-op follow up appointments, they treated me with genuine warmth and care. I am extremely happy with my results, and the healing process was absolutely seamless.

Wonderful Staff

Dr golger is an amazing surgeon he knows what he is doing I went to him for a breast reduction and I couldn’t be much happier. Both Cathy & Josie are amazing as well. Really happy i came across Dr. golger and his wonderful staff.

Highly Recommend

I highly recommend avenue plastic surgery. I just had a breast reduction and I am extremely pleased! Everyone in the office was amazing at answering any questions I have had over the phone as well . Dr Golger made me feel so comfortable .

Phenomenal Surgeon!

Dr. Golger is a phenomenal surgeon!! I can't recommend him enough. He flawlessly performed my breast reduction and lift in June 2022 then performed my breast reconstruction immediately after having my cancer prevention mastectomy done.

Very Ethical

Very ethical Dr he was kind patient and understanding. He took his time to explain the procedure. I decided to go back to my original Dr and Dr Golger refunded my deposit without any issues as promised. I highly recommend Dr Golger. Thanks to Valerie for her exceptional customer service


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