When injury or illness affects the look of your face, there will be a ripple effect across your entire life. Along with diminishing your confidence and self-esteem, you may also experience problems eating, speaking, and even breathing if your nasal passages are affected.
In addition to poor health, the emotional impact of facial damage causes many people to shy away from social interaction, which can be extremely isolating and lonely. Fortunately, reconstructive surgery can help many people experiencing facial trauma and illnesses like cancer reclaim their lives.
Our team at Summit OMS provides a range of oral and maxillofacial procedures, including wisdom teeth removal, bone grafting, dental implants, and facial reconstructive surgery. Facial reconstruction can be used for aesthetic improvement, but it can also treat serious medical issues and prevent them from returning.
Mohs surgery on face is just one of many reconstructive procedures we offer, which is used to address skin cancer on the face and nose. The procedure was first developed by Frederic E. Mohs, MD in the 30s, but wasn’t widely used until 30 years later. Since then, it’s been considered the best option for treating cancers of the face.
Mohs surgery involves the incremental removal of thin layers of skin from the affected area. These skin samples are taken to a lab and tested for the presence of cancerous cells while the procedure is taking place. The process of removal and testing continues on until no more cancerous cells are detected via lab results. This limits the amount of healthy tissues taken, which is crucial when it comes to facial surgery.
This guide explains why Mohs procedures are used, what they are used to treat, and what you can expect before, during, and after the surgery. We believe our patients are best served by comprehensive information on the procedure they’re undergoing, including the possible outcome.
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that often appears on the nose, although it can present in other areas of the face as well. It’s the most common form of skin cancer, and it’s highly treatable when caught early.
Basal cell carcinoma often results from sun exposure, which triggers basal cells in the skin to multiply at a rapid pace. While this form of cancer doesn’t usually spread to other areas of the body, timely treatment is necessary to prevent more serious effects from occurring. Symptoms to look for include:
- A flat scar that looks white or yellow
- Open sores on the face or nose
- A patch of red, irritated skin
- Small, pinkish growths
- A shiny-looking bump
When it comes to treating basal cell carcinoma of the nose, Mohs surgery is considered the best way to remove cancerous tissue without affecting the health and wellness of the patient. It’s also considered the most effective procedure for removing cancerous tissues completely and preventing them from returning.
Mohs Surgery for Melanoma
Melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer as compared to basal cell carcinoma. It’s also more likely to spread to other areas of the body, which makes it more dangerous than more common forms of skin cancer. Sun exposure is a leading cause of melanoma, as excessive sun exposure damages DNA and causes melanocytes in skin to mutate. Melanomas usually present in a mole, which may appear discolored, irregular, or otherwise abnormal. You can determine whether a mole should be evaluated by a doctor by looking for the following signs:
- A (asymmetry)
- B (border irregularity)
- C (changes in color)
- D (diameter/size)
- E (evolving/changing)
There are a few surgical options available when treating melanoma. The cancerous tissue can be excised completely, much like surgical removal of tumors. While this process is effective when cancer appears in other parts of the body, it can be problematic when cancer appears on the face. The skin on the face is delicate, and preserving facial structure is a must to ensure the patient has a good quality of life. While Mohs procedures are less commonly used when treating melanoma, they can have a positive effect depending on the patient’s situation. This is often the case when the cancer is caught early, which means it’s less likely that cancer cells have spread to other areas of the body.
Mohs Surgery Preparation
Each patient is different, so you should follow any specific instructions provided to you by your doctor when preparing for your surgery. However, most patients are asked to do some combination of the following:
- Stop taking medications that increase your bleeding risk, such as blood thinners
- Wear casual, comfortable clothing to the appointment so you can feel relaxed
- Set aside a full day for the procedure, just in case it takes longer than expected
Most Mohs procedures are completed in under four hours, but it depends on the patient and their specific needs. It also depends on the test results, as the procedure will continue until no more cancerous tissue is found. During the surgery, you’ll be given an anesthetic to prevent discomfort. Once the tissue has been removed, it must be analyzed. This usually takes up to one hour. If there are cancerous cells in the sample, another layer will be taken.
Mohs Surgery Recovery
If the wound created by Mohs surgery is relatively minor, it will be bandaged and you’ll be provided wound care instructions to prevent infection. As a result, the wound should heal on its own without issue. If the wound is more substantial, it may require stitches, which may dissolve on their own or require a doctor to remove them. Some patients also require a skin graft, which entails taking healthy skin from elsewhere on your body and using it to cover the surgical site. You will be asked to visit your doctor for follow-ups on a regular basis. The purpose of follow-up exams is to determine whether cancerous tissue has returned. If so, you may be recommended for another round of Mohs surgery. You may also be referred for another type of procedure.
Advantages of Facial Surgery
When it comes to facial surgery, Mohs offers many advantages to patients. Because the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis during a single office visit, there is very little disruption to your life. In fact, you may be able to resume normal activities immediately following your surgery (provided your doctor gives you the all-clear). You’ll know the results of the procedure right away thanks to the on-site lab testing. With other cancer testing, patients may need to wait days or even weeks before results become available.
With Mohs, you can rest assured that your medical team will preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. You can also rest assured that the cancer is being precisely targeted, since the treatment area can be altered with each subsequent lab test. This precision means that Mohs is associated with the highest possible cure rate for basal cell carcinoma, as well as squamous cell carcinoma.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is intimidating, but Summit OMS wants you to know there is hope. Our team uses advanced medical technology coupled with proven procedures to ensure the best possible chance of success. We also go above and beyond to make sure our patients are relaxed and comfortable during a procedure, and are diligent about providing specific after-care instructions so you can progress through your recovery easily.