Eyelid Skin Cancer
Skin cancer can affect all areas of the body, especially in Utah given our altitude. The face is especially prone to skin cancers and the eyelids are one of the most delicate areas to treat. When a skin cancer occurs around the eyelid area (periorbital area), it is especially important to have an oculofacial plastic specialist reconstruct this area after the cancer is removed. Dr. Eftekhari may work with a special type of dermatologist – a Mohs surgeon – to carefully remove the cancer without removing too much surrounding normal tissue. After a skin cancer is removed around the eyelids, it is essential that the eyelids maintain their function of opening and closing to protect the eye, and that is Dr. Eftekhari’s specific area of expertise.
If you have been diagnosed with a skin cancer around your eyes, Dr. Eftekhari may refer you to a Mohs surgeon trained specifically to remove cancers around the eyes because these surgeons have the ability to remove the cancer while leaving behind as much non-cancerous tissue as possible. The Mohs surgeon will remove your cancer in the office, and then within 48 hours Dr. Eftekhari will perform a reconstructive surgery to restore as much normal anatomy as possible for you to retain eyelid function.
Recovery from Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery
Skin cancer reconstructive surgery is outpatient surgery, meaning you will go home the same day. Depending on the extent of surgery, Dr. Eftekhari may need to place a patch over the eye for 24-72 hours. This helps to adhere the tissues together and give the reconstruction the best chance to heal. Bruising is very common around the eyes after surgery, usually lasting 1-2 weeks. Swelling may last 3-6 weeks depending on patient factors. Although bruising is temporarily unsightly, it is a sign of the robust blood supply around the eyelid tissues, which is one of the factors that helps to reduce scarring in this area. To prevent complications post-operatively, Dr. Eftekhari recommends you refrain from heavy lifting – defined as any activity that causes you to strain – because that may affect your wound healing, and therefore may worsen any potential scar.
Results of Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery
Skin cancer anywhere on the face destroys the normal architecture of the tissues where it occurs. After removal of the skin cancer, Dr. Eftekhari has to replace those tissues using specialized reconstructive techniques, but there is always the chance of a permanent scar at the site of the cancer removal. Reconstruction has been shown to decrease the size and depth of the scar in most cases, and minimal scarring is always our goal.
Risks of Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery
Beyond scarring, depending on how much tissue has been removed at the time of the cancer removal, there may be risks of:
- Difficulty closing the eye completely
- Eye dryness
It is important to trust your eyes with a board-certified ophthalmologist with specialized training in oculofacial plastic surgery, as that will ensure the best possible results for eyelid skin cancer reconstruction.