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Category: Mohs Surgery

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4 Ways You Can Get Skin Cancer Besides Sunlight

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, at least three million people are being affected by non-melanoma types of skin cancer every year.
Medical examination to determine if moles are cancerous.

People are always warned that sun exposure causes skin cancer, and true, the sun is responsible for more skin cancer cases than anything else. However, the sun is not the only way to experience a problem.

Skin cancer has many causes and many types, and so there are a few things to keep in mind. 

1. Skin Tone 

Skin cancer can affect people regardless of skin tone; however, it is estimated that Caucasian men over 50 have the highest risk of getting melanoma. This high number is due to the reduced amount of pigment in the skin. Those who have less pigment (melanin) are at a higher risk.

Melanoma occurs when the pigment-producing cells (cells that give color to the skin) become cancerous. 

Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, even in locations that are not heavily exposed to the sun, such as the bottom of the hands and feet and even under the nails. 

2. Tanning Beds 

Tanning beds are often promoted as a safer and faster alternative to long hours laying out in the sun. However, ultraviolet light, regardless of whether it is from the sun or an indoor treatment, are equally dangerous.

UV rays are the primary cause of skin cancers and other skin issues such as wrinkles, rashes, and dark spots. 

Due to the painless and quick design of indoor tanning, it can be very easy to overdo it. Many indoor tanning users experience these beds routinely to maintain their desired results, which can increase the chances of cancer development by 80 percent. 

3. Moles 

In most cases, moles are harmless and will not develop into cancer. However, the more moles you have, the higher your risk is of developing cancer.

Many cells in a mole contain cancer-related genes that cause them to grow and multiply. More often than not, this gene will remain dormant; however, this may not be the case. 

4. Smoking 

Usually, when we think of smoking, we relate it to cancers of the lungs, mouth, or throat. You may be surprised to know that smoking can also have a significant effect on the development of skin cancer. 

Smoking can increase the risk of basal cell carcinoma and melanoma by damaging the skin. Smoking also causes wrinkles and other issues of the skin. 

How Can You Help Prevent Skin Cancer? 

One of the simplest ways to protect yourself from skin cancer is to limit your exposure to harmful light. The AAD advises that you stay away from tanning beds and take necessary measures to protect yourself from sunlight. 

Routine check-ups and self-awareness also play a significant role in prevention and detection. Try to look out for warning signs such as changes in size, shape, or color of a mole, the appearance of a new growth, or a sore that will not heal.

If you notice any of the above, be sure to visit a board-certified dermatologist to determine if there has been any development of cancer. 

If cancer is found, it can often be treated with Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery is a procedure that removes layers of cancerous skin in stages to prevent the unnecessary removal of healthy tissue. In some cases, skin grafts are used to restore the appearance of the skin. 

Want to Learn More? 

If you or someone you love needs more information about skin cancer treatment, please feel free to contact Dr. Hung at his Pasadena office at 626-432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292.


How Can I Identify Melanoma?

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), nearly 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, making it the most common form of cancer in the United States. 

 Cancerous moles tend to be irregular in shape and have different colors.

While these statistics encompass all forms of skin cancer—including basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma—they also include melanoma, a severe form of cancer that can spread throughout the body and have serious, if not deadly, consequences. 

What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the cancer of the melanocytes—the cells that produce melanin. Melanin is responsible for giving our skin its tan or brown color. 

Every person has a different level of melanin, making some patients more susceptible to melanoma. 

Even though melanoma can occur in anyone, Caucasian men over the age of 50 are thought to be at the highest risk.

What Causes Melanoma?

The most common cause of skin cancer—including melanoma—is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. These rays damage your skin cells and affect the way that your melanocytes grow and divide.

But while sun damage is the primary cause, it is not the only cause of melanoma. 

Additional causes include:

  • Your skin type: Fair-skinned individuals are at a higher risk
  • Use of tanning beds: Like natural sun damage, these beds deliver a dangerous amount of UV radiation
  • Your moles: Individuals with a higher number of moles are more likely to get skin cancer. 

What Are the Signs of Melanoma?

Since melanoma is often painless, it can go unnoticed if you are not vigilant. The most common sign of melanoma is a visible change to the appearance of your skin or moles. 

Every person has moles on their bodies, and more often than not, these moles are harmless.  A normal mole is:

  • Evenly colored (brown, black, or tan)
  • Round or oval
  • Smaller than six millimeters
  • Flat or raised (but consistent)

However, a potentially cancerous mole is:

  • Shaded with various colors
  • Irregular in shape
  • Larger than six millimeters
  • Changing in shape or color

When you are on the lookout for melanoma, consider your A.B.C.D.Es and your E.F.Gs.

  • A: Asymmetry (moles that have one half that is larger than the other)
  • B: Border (moles that have a ragged or uneven border and shape)
  • C: Color (moles that have more than two shades)
  • D: Diameter (moles that are larger than six millimeters)
  • E: Evolution (new or changing moles

 

  • E: Elevated (newly raised moles)
  • F: Firm (moles that are hard to the touch)
  • G: Growing (moles that are growing and changing rapidly)

Melanomas can have all of the above irregularities or only have one or two. You want to be careful and mindful of your moles. 

How Is Melanoma Treated?

Melanoma is a quick-spreading cancer, and you need to act fast if you notice any irregularities in your moles or skin. 

You have several treatment options for melanoma, including Mohs surgery. 

Mohs surgery is a tissue-conserving method that removes cancerous cells layer by layer. While this approach eliminates the visible tumor as well as a thin rim of tissue around the cancer, it is a conservative approach that preserves more healthy tissue than traditional skin cancer treatments.

Mohs surgery not only causes less unnecessary trauma, but it also ensures the best aesthetic result. Following Mohs surgery, the area may only require the closing of the area, or it may require a skin graft. 

How Is Melanoma Detected?

A melanoma diagnosis is achieved through a biopsy. This takes a sample of tissue and tests that tissue for cancerous activity.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

Melanoma is very dangerous when it is not identified but very treatable when it is found early. 

To ensure that you get the earliest treatment possible, perform self-skin checks every three months. During these checks, you should examine all of your moles. 

Some individuals find it beneficial to make a map of their moles. 

Watch out for any change in the size or look of your moles and get treatment as soon as possible, if necessary.

Are You Interested in Learning About Mohs Surgery?

If you are interested in learning more about skin cancer or Mohs Surgery in the Los Angeles or Orange County area, contact Dr. Hung by calling our Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032, our Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292, or by filling out our online contact form.


3 Ways to Minimize Mohs Surgery Scars

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Mohs surgery treats skin cancer by gently removing the affected area and a thin tissue rim that surrounds the tumor.

Man with a healing incision after a skin cancer biopsy.

Even though this treatment preserves as much healthy tissue as possible and requires less reconstruction than other types of skin cancer treatment, the affected area will still need to be reconstructed, and a scar will form.

How Is the Area Reconstructed?

Skin grafts (or cartilage grafts) are used to fill in regions that have been affected by skin cancer, whether the growth was on the face, ears, arms, back, or legs. 

This type of graft will depend on the area of skin cancer and how much skin needs to be removed to ensure that all of the cancer cells are eliminated.

Skin grafts are either full-thickness or split-thickness. While both techniques move the skin from a donor area (usually a place that is easy to conceal with clothing), they require a different amount of material. 

A full-thickness graft removes a full layer of epidermis and dermis from the donor region. 

A split-thickness graft takes a complete layer of the epidermis but only a partial thickness of the dermis.

These donor samples are then meshed (to spread over the wound) and applied to the open wound.

What Kinds of Scars Develop?

Your Mohs surgery scar will depend on the size, location, and shape of cancer, as well as the types of reconstruction techniques required. 

In certain situations, when the cancer is small, the skin can be pulled together and sutured closed. This technique usually results in a minimal, thin line.

In other situations, when skin or cartilage graft is required, the resulting scar may be round or rectangular and be readily visible.

Before and after image showing the results of Mohs Surgery before the reconstruction process in Pasadena, CA.

How Can You Reduce the Appearance of These Scars?

Scarring is a common occurrence following surgical procedures. While these scars will fade naturally with time, they can be minimized with specific practices.

Stay Out of the Sun

The skin on new scars is fragile and easily burnable. 

Because it is so fresh, it will be more susceptible to sun damage than the surrounding skin, and sun damage causes the scar to darken and take on a dark brown color.

To prevent your scar from darkening, keep the healing incision or graft covered and out of the sun. 

Most patients can apply sunscreen after two weeks, but this should be approved by your doctor beforehand.

Apply Silicone

Silicone has many uses, including scar management. Silicone strips or gel can help dull the appearance of surgical scars. 

Silicone strips are reusable bandages that should be worn 12 hours a day for at least three months. 

Silicone gel is applied directly to the scar to reduce the pigment. 

Recovery with these products can begin once the incisions have completely healed.

Post-Surgical Massages

Post-surgical massages are performed to promote wound healing and reduce the appearance of scars.

Massages break up scar tissue, which may reduce the size and the raised appearance of the wound.

This practice can be accomplished by gently rubbing (massaging) on and around the area. Massaging softens the scar tissue and promotes collagen remodeling. 

Massages should be performed two or three times a day for five to 10 minutes at a time.  

Find Out More

For more information about how to reduce scars or to find Mohs surgery near you, contact Dr. Hung by calling (626) 432-5032 or by filling out our online contact form

Dr. Hung performs Mohs surgery and skin reconstruction for patients in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California.


What Is a Split-Thickness Skin Graft?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Skin grafts are used to cover and repair the wounds left by skin cancer treatment when the surrounding skin is not healthy enough to heal by traditional wound healing. 

Women touching her smooth and healthy legs after skin cancer resconstruction.

Reconstruction of skin cancers can be difficult on the lower legs because of the tight skin, the presence of spider and varicose veins, and the necessity of that skin to stretch and expand when walking or exercising.    

Since men and women often expose their lower legs, especially during the hot Southern California summers, reconstruction of skin cancers on the legs is essential.

How Do Skin Grafts Work?

A skin graft takes skin from a healthy area of the body and transfers it to a different area that cannot repair itself. 

While skin grafts are almost always used after skin cancer surgery, such as Mohs surgery, it can also be used to treat burns, large wounds, and infections.

There are two types of skin grafts available to treat these injuries: full-thickness and split-thickness skin grafts

Split-thickness skin grafts are commonly used to cover skin cancer wounds on the lower legs. 

How Is a Split-thickness Skin Graft Performed?

The difference between a full-thickness skin graft and a split-thickness skin graft is the amount of skin taken from the donor site. 

Before and after for a woman undergoing reconstruction of skin cancer on her leg in Pasadena, CA.

A split-thickness skin graft removes the epidermis (the top layer of the skin) and only a portion of the dermis (the deeper layer of the skin). 

A full-thickness skin graft, on the other hand, removes the epidermis and the dermis. 

The split-thickness technique is used to cover large areas, which makes it ideal for the legs. 

Full-thickness skin grafts are usually reserved for smaller areas, such as the face and hands, because they blend better with the surrounding skin. 

Full-thickness skin grafts also heal very well, but they are not able to cover the same amount of tissue space as a split-thickness graft.

Split-thickness Skin Graft Procedure Steps:

  1. The donor site is marked depending on the size and depth of the wound that the skin will be transferred to. While split-thickness skin grafts can be taken from any area of the body, the skin is commonly removed from the inner thigh, where the donor site is easy to cover. 
  2. From the donor site, the epidermis and some of the dermis is gently and carefully removed. Some epithelial cells, like the sweat glands, hair follicles, and sebaceous glands, are left at the donor site so that they can assist in the reepithelialization (healing) of the donor site.
  3. This donor skin is transferred to a skin graft carrier so that it can be meshed. Meshing is a step of the grafting process that creates small slits in the donor skin so that it can stretch to cover a larger recipient area. 
  4. The meshed donor skin is then prepped, sterilized, and applied to the wound. During the healing process, new skin cells will develop and fill in the “holes” created by the meshing process.
  5. Both the donor sites and the recipient sites are wrapped and dressed in sterile bandages and gauze.

For More Information

To learn more about skin grafts or reconstruction after skin cancer, contact Dr. Hung by calling (626) 432-5032 or by filling out our online contact form. Dr. Hung performs Mohs surgery and reconstruction after skin cancer treatment in Pasadena, California.


Is Nasal Reconstruction Different from Cosmetic Nasal Surgery?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Although nasal reconstruction and nasal surgery sound like they are one and the same, they are vastly different procedures. Nasal reconstruction fills defects or holes created by skin cancer treatment, while rhinoplasty, or cosmetic nasal surgery, alters and enhances the physical appearance or function of the nose.

Close up image of a nose

Despite being so different, at their core, both procedures enhance nasal aesthetics. Nasal reconstruction does so by moving skin and tissue. Rhinoplasty does so by altering cartilage and bone.

Nasal surgery, whether reconstructive or cosmetic, is one of the most complex and challenging forms of facial surgery. The nose is a multifaceted structure composed of cartilage, muscle, mucosa, tissue, and skin and, as if that alone did not make it difficult enough, it is the central aesthetic focus of the face.

Any defect or cosmetic insecurity is heightened when it deals with the nose, and nasal surgery can be the most rewarding type of facial enhancement.

How Does Rhinoplasty Differ from Nasal Reconstruction?

Rhinoplasty involves the surgical reshaping and reconstruction of the bone and cartilage to improve nasal functionality and aesthetics. This procedure is performed to alter a nasal profile that may have large humps or bumps, structural irregularities of the nasal tip, flared nostrils, or is not in balance with the surrounding facial features.

Rhinoplasty is performed through an open or closed method; however, this only differentiates the locations of the incisions. Rhinoplasty, regardless of technique, is performed entirely on the inside of the nose. This surgery involves shaving down the cartilage to get rid of bumps or introducing cartilage or bone grafts to augment the size or shape.

Why Is Nasal Reconstruction Essential After Skin Cancer Treatment?

The nose is one of the most common locations for skin cancer on the face. While Mohs surgery is one of the best ways to ensure that the tumor will be entirely removed and will not return, it often leaves a hole or defect in the skin.

Reconstruction focuses on preserving the nasal lining, support, and coverage. This uses one of four reconstruction techniques. The chosen method will depend on the size of your defect as well as your nasal anatomy.

Direct Linear Closure

This reconstruction technique is the easiest and most common approach when repairing a defect after Mohs surgery. Here, the two sides of the wound are pulled together, and the skin is closed in a straight line. Since most skin cancers are removed in a circle with Mohs surgery, this technique often elongates the shape of the missing skin so that the surface will not pucker when it is pulled together.

Local Flaps

The local flap technique may be offered when the defect is small. This process covers the area of missing skin by stretching the surrounding skin to cover the hole. The local flap method is less invasive and requires less recovery than skin grafts because it does not take skin or tissue from a secondary region.

Full Thickness Skin Grafts

Whereas local flaps borrow tissue from the nose, skin grafts take tissue from elsewhere on the body. This technique is required when the defect is larger, and the skin on the nose cannot be stretched to cover the hole adequately. The skin used for this graft comes from various regions of the body, and that area will be determined during your consultation.

Paramedian Forehead Flap

This technique is often considered the gold standard for nasal reconstruction. The forehead offers a large amount of tissue that can be safely relocated to the nose. This technique is ideal when the nasal defect is too large even for a standard skin graft and can create some of the most natural-looking and inconspicuous reconstructive results.

If you are about to undergo Mohs surgery for skin cancer on the nose, it is time to consider your nasal reconstruction options. Contact Dr. Hung by calling his Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032, his Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292, or by filling out his online contact form.

 


Should You Consider Reconstructive Plastic Surgery?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

After undergoing Mohs surgery for your skin cancer, you may be left with a less-than-desirable cosmetic result. Although Mohs surgery has the unique ability to preserve more tissue than other skin cancer surgeries, skin and tissue are still being removed, and scars are not only likely but expected. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of skin and tissue are removed so that only the cancerous tissue is taken; saving a more significant amount of surrounding skin and tissue than other procedures. Unfortunately, some skin cancers are deep and extensive, and a considerable amount of tissue must be removed. While a scar is always better than the alternative of cancer, it can still be detrimental to your confidence and emotional well-being, especially if the skin cancer was on your face. For patients suffering from the emotional and psychological effects of scarring after Mohs surgery, reconstructive plastic surgery can help restore smoothness and an aesthetic appeal to many areas of the face and body.

Woman getting her skin checked for skin cancer.

Although skin cancers can develop on nearly any area of the body, they are most commonly diagnosed on areas above the shoulders, especially on the face. Facial features, such as the nose, lower eyelids, lips, ears, and scalp, are common places for skin cancer to develop, and it is difficult to hide scarring in these areas. Instead of trying to find creative ways to cover the scars, reconstructive plastic surgery employs a series of techniques that minimize the after-effects of Mohs surgery and other skin cancer treatments.

The Physical Benefits

Skin cancer often develops in visible areas on the face, such as the nose, lips, and eyelids. While these features are always on display, their value is not only aesthetic; all of these areas play essential functional roles in your life that can be interfered with by the results of Mohs surgery. Scarring from previous skin cancer on the nose can affect your ability to breath while scarring on the eyelids can force the lower lids to become too taut, making it difficult for your eyelids to open and close. Scarring on the lips can impede your ability to speak or eat.

The Emotional Benefits

While we sometimes try to deny it, a considerable amount of our self-confidence is interconnected with the way we perceive our appearance. Having an extensive scar on your face can not only be difficult to hide, but it can be challenging to forget about. Even if others don’t realize that the scar is there, you are aware of it, and its presence can affect the way you carry yourself. Reconstructive plastic surgery after skin cancer allows you to put your insecurities about your scar behind you so that you can embrace your facial features. If you are considering reconstructive plastic surgery, you’ve already undergone the hardest parts: the diagnosis and treatment. Instead of seeing the constant reminder of your skin cancer when you look in the mirror, reconstructive plastic surgery allows you to put your cancer behind you.

To learn more about how reconstructive plastic surgery can be beneficial to you after skin cancer, contact Dr. Hung at his Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292 to set up a consultation.


How Can Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery Help?

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

While skin cancer is treatable and offers an excellent prognosis, the initial diagnosis is frightening as any cancer is still cancer. Specifically, there are three types of potential skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. And there are various ways to treat these forms of cancer. One of these is a highly specialized form of surgery known as Mohs surgery.

Dermatology Consultation Man-img-blo

How Does Mohs Surgery Differ From Traditional Methods?

The majority of skin cancer diagnoses require a surgical procedure to ensure that all traces of the cancer are removed. In traditional skin cancer surgery, both the tumor and the margin (the area around the skin cancer in close enough proximity for the cancer to spread) is excised with a scalpel. The wound is usually then closed in an “elliptical fashion.” The linear closure and subsequent scar is then three times the diameter of the removal to eliminate puckering or “dog ears” at the edges of the incision. In addition, it can take a week to obtain a definite pathology result. If the cancer has not been totally removed, further surgery may be necessary. By removing the tumor and the margin this way, a wider excision may be used, which can leave a longer and deeper scar.

Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure that treats skin cancer lesions with the highest cure rates of any skin cancer treatment. During this procedure, a local anesthetic is applied. After this, the visible skin cancer is removed as well as a very thin layer of surrounding tissue. This extra thin layer of tissue is immediately examined under a microscope to determine if any additional skin cancer unnoticeable to the naked eye is present. Since this examination period can take anywhere from one to two hours to complete, we recommend that you bring an iPad, a book, or friend to occupy your waiting time.

Once the results on the surrounding tissue come back, Dr. Hung can determine if an additional layer of tissue needs to be removed. If there are no traces of cancer in the tested tissue, then you are ready to go; however, if there are traces, an additional amount of tissue will be removed; this process is repeated until no cancer remains. Dr. Hung removes the smallest amounts of tissue possible with each pass to ensure that no tissue is removed that doesn’t need to be. This process also allows for the smallest scar and most comfortable recovery period, and because the layers of tissue are examined right away, you can feel assured that no traces of skin cancer will go unnoticed. This is why Mohs surgery has the highest cure rates of any form of skin cancer treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer on your face or neck, Mohs surgery might be an option for you. Dr. Hung is triple board certified in internal medicine, dermatology, and plastic surgery. Contact Dr. Hung by calling his Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292 to set up a consultation.