A skin lesion is a growth that appears on or underneath the skin, and can occur anywhere on the body. People experiencing new-found or unexpected skin lesions should consult their doctor in case the growth is cancerous. Sun damaged skin is more likely to develop a lesion, although these growths can appear even on skin that has had little sun exposure.
A skin lesion diagnosis can be unexpected and difficult to fully comprehend. Cancer can be particularly concerning to patients when a lesion appears on the face, with the potential to result in social phobia or reluctance to participate in the usual activities. There is no denying that the prospect of scarring or disfigurement is a troubling scenario to contemplate.
Is skin cancer removal a major operation?
The degree of surgery required is determined by the cancer size and variety. Removal methods range from minor skin lesions treated on-site, to aggressive cancers requiring a biopsy and reconstructive surgery. Your surgeon will provide advice and suggestions during the consultation process, and any reconstructive work will be performed so that scarring conforms as much as possible to your natural shape and features.
Even in cases where it isn’t malignant, lesion removal is often the best approach in case it becomes cancerous.
Dr Ellis Choy and his team understand how scary these cases can be for patients and always take the time to address all concerns and they will guide you through your treatment journey.
Varieties of skin cancer lesions
- Melanoma: This most aggressive type of skin cancer involves lesions that change in colour, size or shape. These cancers should be investigated as soon as possible and can be successfully cured if found in a pre-malignant state. If left untreated, melanoma can become widespread and extremely difficult to cure.
- Basal cell cancer: These are a very common type of cancer and are fortunately also the least aggressive or serious. Basal cell cancer will typically grow slightly, ulcerate then heal, with the process repeating and the lesion slowly getting bigger. Prompt removal will help avoid unnecessary scarring.
- Squamous cell cancer: These are another common form of cancer, appearing as a scaly lesion that has a tendency to enlarge and bleed. If treated early, a squamous cell cancer will rarely spread.
- Moles: Although not technically a skin cancer, a mole nevertheless has the potential for housing an environment suited for cancer to manifest. When transforming from a harmless mole into a harmful skin cancer, and mole will exhibit telling signs. These include the mole altering shape, changing colour, becoming irregular around the border and increasing in size.
Skin lesion removal procedures
Removal of skin cancer can be very simple or relatively complex, depending on the nature of your cancer and the surgery required. Small, non-invasive cancers are easily removed using liquid nitrogen spray which freezes the growth. The healing process is complete when the dried up lesion drops off after a few days. Only a tiny scar will be noticeable.
Other small lesions can be removed by surgical excision. The cancer is removed, and the surrounding skin closed to assist with healing. However, if you notice what seems to be a small and unimportant skin cancer it’s still worth consulting an expert, as what you see on the surface may only be the tip of the problem area. Often, the majority of cancer is hidden below the skin’s surface and the underlying cancer may not be visible externally. Many surgical techniques can be employed, including Mohs surgery, a process that allows microscopic examination of the lesion before the wound is closed.
Unless all malignant material is removed, there is a very real chance of the cancer returning, and more tissue may need to be removed until all skin and tissue surrounding the wound is unaffected and healthy.
In larger lesions, a flap of skin may be formed using healthy adjacent tissue. It is then repositioned to cover the wound area. This localised flap of skin will be of the same colour and texture as the surrounding skin, making this method more desirable in cancers that affect the face.
The best possible results
A fully qualified and expert plastic and cosmetic surgeon like Dr Ellis Choy has the understanding and capability to provide optimum results, including the creation of a less noticeable scar aligned with the natural curvature of facial features.
Skin cancer is a condition that cannot be ignored or overlooked. If you have any concerns regarding skin cancer lesions, a consultation with Dr Choy will be most advantageous. He will help to alleviate any concerns and guide you on the path to the best possible treatment plan.
View our 3D self-examination animations and information sheets for more information. If you require further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and helpful team.