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​​Skin Cancer FAQs: What Should You Know Going Into Your Treatment

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that about a fifth of all Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. 

Below is a rundown of the frequently asked questions about skin cancer.

​​Woman's mole being checked under a magnifying glass.

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer can be understood as an abnormal growth of cells on the skin. This issue usually occurs as a result of overexposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

What Are the Common Types of Skin Cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and melanoma

BCC is the most common of the three. It affects the basal cells of the skin, which are essentially the cells responsible for making new cells to replace the dying ones. BCC usually develops in areas that are most exposed to the sun, including the face, neck, head, and hands.

SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer. It usually affects the outer surface of the skin in areas such as the head, face, and neck. It also occurs in areas such as the genitals and the mucus membranes.

Melanoma is not as common as BCC and SCC, but it happens to be the most dangerous — even life-threatening. It usually affects the cells responsible for making the skin pigments and can spread rapidly through the lymph nodes.

What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?

Each form of skin cancer is associated with some unique warning signs. 

BCC is associated with signs such as:

  • A small shiny bump
  • A scaly, red flat patch
  • A black or brown bump
  • A lesion that bleeds
  • A non-healing sore

Squamous cell carcinoma is associated with signs such as:

  • A scaly red patch that looks like a rash
  • A persistent small ulcer on the lips
  • A crusted open sore
  • A raised scaly lump on the scalp, hands, legs, ears, or forearm

Melanoma usually presents itself as a mole that changes shape, size, and color. The mole might also bleed, itch, or cause pain.

How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?

When you notice an unusual spot on the surface of your skin, you need to see a dermatologist. 

The dermatologist will examine the spot to determine if you have skin cancer. To this end, your dermatologist will remove the spot or a part of it and study it using a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. 

If cancer cells are present, your dermatologist will write a biopsy report and highlight the kind of skin cancer you have.

How Is Skin Cancer Treated?

Skin cancer can be treated in several ways depending on the type of cancer in question and its stage of development. 

Some common treatment options include:

  • Mohs surgery
  • Excisional surgery
  • Cryotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy

Once you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, your dermatologist or surgeon will explain your options and advise you on the best steps to take.

Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented?

Since skin cancer is often caused by overexposure of the skin to the sun’s UV radiation, the best way to prevent it is to take measures that reduce your exposure to the sun. 

Some examples of such measures include:

  • Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • Seeking shade whenever possible
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Wearing hats with wide brims
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants

It is also important to keep an eye on all moles and other skin lesions to make sure they look healthy.

Need to Learn More About Skin Cancer Concerns or Treatment?

Get in with Dr. Vincent C. Hung’s practice today to learn more about skin cancer and how it is treated.

Give us a call at (626) 432-5032 or fill out our online contact form.


Will I Have Hair After Skin Cancer Removal on My Head?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Whenever a patient undergoes skin cancer removal surgery, many worries can go through their minds. 

The first is about the success of the operation and whether all of the cancer will be removed. 

 Close-up shot of a bald man with his hand on his head

But after the cancer is taken care of, patients’ worries usually move onto the lasting results and impacts on the body, including future hair growth if the skin cancer was on the head. 

Many people worry that they will be forever bald after Mohs surgery, unable to grow any hair whatsoever. Unfortunately, whether you will have permanent hair loss issues after skin cancer removal on your head is not an easy Yes or No answer. 

However, here is some information to help you better understand skin cancer removal and its lasting effects on your hair.

What Is the Most Common Skin Cancer Removal Method?

Luckily, we’ve come a long way in successfully removing skin cancer from patients’ bodies. 

Mohs surgery is the most common and successful procedure for removing skin cancer while doing as little harm to your body and aesthetics as possible. 

With Mohs surgery, the cancer area is removed, one cancer tissue layer at a time. Each tissue layer is examined in a lab until no cancer cells remain. This process is repeated, layer after layer, until you are free from any cancer.

What Causes Hair Loss After Skin Cancer Removal?

Whether a patient loses the ability to regrow hair after skin cancer removal comes down to whether or not the hair follicles are affected during Mohs surgery. 

If the cancer is shallow, meaning that few layers of tissue and skin were removed during surgery, then the hair follicles can survive and allow hair to regrow without any kind of surgical intervention. 

However, if the follicles were removed or directly affected during Mohs surgery (because the cancer was deeper and more layers of tissue and skin were removed), then the hair will not be able to grow back naturally, leading to baldness in that area. 

It’s important to note that the nature of Mohs surgery is to preserve as much of the skin (including the hair follicles) as possible, but some cancers are deeper than others.

What Are the Methods for Repairing the Scalp After Skin Cancer Removal?

During Mohs surgery, your surgeon will remove as much of the cancerous tissue and skin needed to make sure that you are cancer-free. While it is best to let the skin of the scalp heal itself naturally, this is not always possible. 

Sometimes, skin reconstruction is necessary, especially if the surgical site was deep or large. If this is the case, there are two methods for repairing the scalp. The extent of the cancerous area (size of the cancer) plays a part in which method of repair is best for you.

Skin Flap

A skin flap is used if the follicles were removed, but the skin cancer is contained to a smaller area on the head. A skin flap uses the tissue surrounding the Mohs surgery site to cover the surgical area and heal. 

This often allows for a smoother healing surface with similar coloration and texture and less chance of scar contracture (shrinking). This method preserves as many hair follicles as possible, though the pattern of the hair will change.

Skin Graft

While a skin flap offers many positives, especially with allowing for hair to regrow, if the cancer excision site is large, a skin graft may be required. 

Where a skin flap has continued blood flow (since the skin is not actually removed from the body and reattached), a skin graft does not have continuous blood supply because it is skin that has been taken from another part of your body, moved, and attached to the Mohs surgery site. 

A skin graft allows for larger coverage and helps protect the surgical area; however, due to the nature of skin grafts, they usually do not allow hair to regrow in the reconstructed area without further treatment.

Want to Learn More? 

If you have any questions about skin cancer removal or how Mohs surgery will affect your hair growth, 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 Effective Is Mohs Surgery?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

2 Minute Read: 

Any cancer diagnosis can be disorienting and frightening. Over 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. However, there is good news. Most cases of skin cancer are treatable, especially if they are caught early.

Stethoscope next to a clip board reading 'Mohs Surgery' on desk

When Is Mohs Surgery Recommended?

Mohs surgery is recommended for certain types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Other factors that make Mohs surgery the best option include aggressive or large cancers and cancers affecting areas with very little underlying tissue, such as the eyelids, noses, ear, scalp, genitals, hands, or feet. 

Previously treated cancers that reoccur may be eligible for Mohs surgery too.

What Happens During Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is a specialized technique for treating skin cancer, named for the surgeon who first developed it. The technique has evolved and improved over the years and is now considered one of the most advanced skin cancer treatments available.

The Mohs Surgery Procedure

A surgeon removes visually cancerous cells first, then carefully removes very thin layers of skin, one at a time. Each layer is examined to detect any sign of cancer. 

The person undergoing surgery is usually awake and alert, and the surgical site is numbed by anesthesia. 

Most procedures take place in a doctor’s office or clinic. The wound is bandaged after each layer of skin is removed while the surgeon examines the skin under a microscope. The procedure continues until no signs of skin cancer are present.

Surgical Goals

Surgeons undergo fellowship training in Mohs surgery to read slides of skin layers and coordinate microscopic results to the surgical site. The overarching goal of Mohs surgery is to minimize the risk of cancerous cells growing back while preserving as much healthy skin and tissue as possible.

How Is the Site Treated After Surgery?

The preservation of healthy tissue helps surgical sites heal quickly. Some sites don’t even need stitches. Other sites may need stitches, but the wound heals quickly. 

Sometimes the risk of scarring is greater if the surgical site is in a delicate area, such as under the eyes or around the nose and mouth.

Skin Grafts and Wound Care

Skin grafts may minimize scar tissue formation. People with large wounds may be placed under the supervision of surgeons that specialize in wound treatment. Specialized wound care may also be recommended for people with diabetes or other conditions that could complicate healing.

Interested in Learning More About Mohs Surgery?

You can contact Dr. Hung’s office in Pasadena at 626-432-5032 or the Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292 to learn more about Mohs Surgery and possible reconstruction options post-surgery. You can also fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.


Is Sun Exposure the Only Cause of Skin Cancer?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Most people assume that skin cancer is only caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. It’s true, the sun’s UV rays are the leading cause of skin cancer; however, many other lifestyle factors can influence skin cancer development. 

Let’s look at lesser-known causes of skin cancer, so you can work to prevent it.

Women getting a mole on her back checked by a doctor, potentially for skin cancer

What Are the Common Causes of Skin Cancer?

Tanning

The leading cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by sunlight. 

However, the sun is not the only way to be exposed to UV radiation. Another is tanning beds. 

Like the sun, tanning beds emit both UVA and UVB rays. Both of these penetrate the skin, and both can increase your risk of skin cancer (not to mention premature aging, rashes, and even allergic reactions). 

To make things worse, since indoor tanning does not require good weather, people can use these devices year-round, increasing their exposure to harmful UV rays.

Genetics

Unfortunately, some skin cancer factors cannot be avoided. Your genetics play a huge factor, and there is nothing you can do to change that. This means that you will need to be vigilant and aware of warning signs. 

Although, skin cancer can affect anyone:
  • Studies have shown that men are more prone to melanoma than women, and Caucasian men have a higher risk than other ethnicities. 
  • Certain genetic disorders that affect the pigmentation of the skin make people more prone to skin cancer. 
  • People with fair skin and freckles are more likely to suffer burns from the sun, increasing their risk of damage. 
  • Additionally, people prone to moles have a higher chance of developing skin cancer than those with fewer moles.

Additional Factors

Some people develop skin cancer if they have been exposed to high levels of X-rays or have been in contact with chemicals, such as arsenic, which miners and farmers commonly use. 

Skin cancer can also be caused by hydrocarbons which are present in tar, soot, and oils.

How Can I Reduce the Chances of Developing Skin Cancer?

The best way to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer is awareness and proper sun protection. 

Ensure that you always put sunscreen on and don’t sit or lay in the sun for long periods — especially during peak hours. It’s also best to avoid visiting tanning salons, which can damage your skin and may cause skin cancer in the long run.

People with moles should consider making a mole map. That way, they can keep an eye on their moles and watch for any unusual changes in shape, size, or color.

For more information about how to identify a melanoma, read our blog here

Contact Dr. Hung Today!

If you have any moles that you are worried about or have recently noticed changes to your skin, it’s best to visit a doctor for a check-up. 

Skin cancer affects as many as one in five Americans; however, it is usually very treatable when found early.

If you live in Southern California, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Vincent Hung. The team can be reached at (626) 432-5032 for more information about skin cancer tests and treatment, including Mohs Surgery.


Your Guide to Skin Grafting in Pasadena

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Most skin cancer patients find Mohs surgery to be the optimal way to remove cancerous growths. While Mohs surgery is known for sparing as much non-cancerous tissue as possible, it can still result in significant surface injury that requires a skin graft. 

Example of a basal cell carcinoma on the face of a women near her eyebrow.

This graft is vital to the healing process and provides aesthetic benefits by covering the damaged area. 

Skin graft surgery is a reconstructive procedure that replaces the removed skin with donor tissue (harvested from your body). This skin graft guide will cover some of the things patients should know about skin grafting before undergoing Mohs surgery.

Table of Contents

What Are the Different Types of Skin Graft?

How Is Skin Grafting Performed?

What Are the Skin Graft Healing Stages?

Want to Learn More About Skin Grafts?

What Are the Different Types of Skin Graft?

There are two general types of skin grafts: split-thickness and full-thickness. Each type provides different results and benefits.

Split-Thickness Grafts 

Split-thickness grafts involve taking large swaths of the upper layer of skin from a donor site. Because these grafts only comprise the upper layers of skin, they may not look as natural as full-thickness grafts

These wider grafts are ideal for treating broader and more shallow injuries like burns or surface damage. However, these types of grafts are not as commonly used after Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery usually results in smaller but deeper incisions. 

You can learn more about the types of Mohs surgery incisions here

Full-Thickness Grafts

Full-thickness grafts use smaller pieces of skin to treat deeper wounds and surgical incisions. 

These grafts work because full-thickness grafts comprise both the upper and lower layers of the skin. This makes them far more effective at grafting into a wound and providing natural-looking results. 

This type of graft is ideal for smaller and deeper incisions or wounds. Full-thickness grafts are less effective the larger the target area is. 

Full-thickness grafts are commonly used after Mohs surgery to cover the incisions. Donor tissue can be taken from the abdomen, groin area, or arm. The smaller grafts, coupled with the thicker skin, make it more likely for the grafts to appear natural. This is important for patients whose incisions are in prominent locations, like the face.

How Is Skin Grafting Performed?

Skin grafting is usually performed using local anesthesia. The donor site and receiving site are identified, and each area is numbed.

Once the area is prepped, the desired amount of skin is excised from the donor area. The graft is then placed over the receiving site and sutured or stapled in place. Dr. Hung does his best to line up blood vessels between the graft and existing skin. This ensures the graft receives enough oxygen and nutrients during the recovery process. 

What Are the Skin Graft Healing Stages?

It can take up to 36 hours to know if a skin graft has taken or not. During the initial skin graft recovery period, Dr. Hung may place you under observation or ask you to come back for periodic checkups.

After 36 hours, if the graft has taken, you can return home. Dr. Hung usually prescribes medications to help manage the pain. The donor site should heal within a couple of weeks, leaving a small skin graft scar. The graft site may take up to four weeks to fully heal. 

You should avoid any activities that could stretch or strain the graft site for four to six weeks following the operation. 

Want to Learn More About Skin Grafts? 

If you want to learn more about skin grafting, how to treat skin grafts after surgery, or other related concerns, please contact our Pasadena office at 626-432-5032. You can also reach us at our Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hung.


How Does the Sun Damage Your Skin?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Many people wish for tanned, glowing skin; however, tanning, if not done correctly, can result in severe skin damage. 

This means that having tan, beautiful skin when you are younger may result in wrinkles and sunspots at an older age. 

In addition to displeasing aesthetic effects, excessive sun exposure can cause skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to avoid harmful tanning, such as tanning beds and sitting in the sun, and switch to spray tans or tanning lotion to maintain your skin’s glowing, youthful appearance. 

Woman in blue bathing suit spending time on the sunny beach.

How Can I Avoid Sun Damage? 

While the sun can damage your skin, it can also be healthy for you. The sun can provide vitamin D, improve sleep, improve mood, and even relieve stress. If you are going to spend time in the sun, you must take the proper precautions. 

1. Wear Sunscreen 

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is surprising how many people do not wear sunscreen when they are in the sun. Even if you are not going to the beach or sitting by the pool, putting sunscreen on at the beginning of every day can protect you from the harmful UV rays you are exposed to throughout the day. 

Consider keeping sunscreen in your car or your purse for quick access and reapply as needed. 

2. Limit Sun Exposure 

We are constantly exposed to the sun during the day, even if it may seem cloudy outside. However, you should significantly limit your exposure to the sun during its peak hours. This usually occurs in the middle of the day. If you choose to go outside when the sun is brightest, consider wearing sunscreen or protective clothing to protect your skin. 

3. Wear Sunglasses 

The sun not only affects our skin but our eyes as well. Constant exposure to the sun can cause damage to the cornea, which can eventually cause blurriness and loss of vision. 

4. Wear Long-Sleeved Shirts and Pants 

In many situations, we cannot avoid being out in the sun. In cases where you spend a significant amount of time in the sun, sunscreen may not be enough to protect you. Wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs can help protect against sun damage. Additionally, wearing a hat can block the sun from reaching your face. 

5. Ask Medical Professionals About the Medications You Take 

Believe it or not, certain medications can increase sunlight sensitivity. This means that you are more likely to burn and experience the harmful effects of sun exposure. If you notice the sun is affecting you more than normal, your medication could be to blame. 

Please talk to your doctor to see if your medication is increasing your sunlight sensitivity. 

How Is Skin Cancer Treated? 

Thankfully, when caught early, skin cancer is treatable. 

Dr. Hung offers Mohs micrographic surgery to remove skin cancer and leave as much healthy skin as possible. 

If you have been recently diagnosed with skin cancer, please call Dr. Hung at his Pasadena office at 626-432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292 to schedule a consultation for Mohs surgery. 


Your Guide to Nose Reconstruction After Skin Cancer

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Skin cancer on the nose is an unpleasant experience at best and potentially deforming at worse. 

Mohs surgery allows for cancerous growths to be removed with a minimal amount of tissue lost. Unfortunately, that still means that many people with skin cancer on their nose will end up with open wounds on its surface. 

woman at the conclusion of a nasal reconstruction procedure.

To correct this, Dr. Hung offers a series of nasal reconstruction options that can reduce the risk of complications and create a new and improved nasal appearance.

What Are Common Nose Reconstruction Techniques?

Nasal reconstruction is based on the specific needs of the patient. No two reconstruction operations are ever the same because no two cancer removal procedures are ever the same. 

This means the techniques described below are general techniques applied to most nasal reconstruction operations; however, they may or may not line up with your own.

1. Direct Linear Closure

Direct linear closure is a surgical technique that uses the lax skin above and below the wound to seal the injury. This technique is one of the simplest when it comes to repairing large wounds. 

The main issue with it is that it requires a certain amount of skin laxity and can result in a scar larger than the original wound if the skin is not quite right. 

2. Local Flaps

Local flap reconstruction stretches nearby skin to cover the open wound. This technique is ideal for patients with smaller open wounds on the nose. This technique’s main advantage is that it begins the healing process faster than most other reconstruction options on this list. 

The main disadvantage of this reconstruction option is that it requires the wound to be small. It also requires the skin near the wound to have enough elasticity to cover the wound without damaging the skin itself. 

This means that local flaps are not always a viable option. However, when available, this technique is usually a good go-to option. 

3. Full-thickness Skin Graft

A full-thickness skin graft is one of the most challenging and complex forms of nasal reconstruction. It takes a segment of skin from another area of the body and grafts it over the open nasal wound. When performed well, this technique can treat the largest post-cancer wounds and help a nose look natural, even after losing significant amounts of tissue. This option is rarely a go-to, but it offers a viable reconstructive solution for patients with larger wounds. 

The main downsides to a full-thickness skin graft are its complexity and need for a donor area. Most patients prefer their nasal reconstruction not to require a new wound to be opened elsewhere. 

The extra complexity of this procedure can also cause the operation to take longer. This technique is still far better than not getting a nasal reconstruction, but other options are usually recommended first if viable. 

4. Distant Flaps

This technique partially removes tissue from the forehead to cover the open wound on the nose and restore lost tissue. This technique is often seen as the go-to option for people with wounds too large for direct linear closure. 

It can provide some of the most natural results of all the reconstructive options and is less complicated than a skin graft. 

The main disadvantage of this technique is the potential for scarring on the forehead. Ideally, this will not be a concern. However, some patients prefer to choose other options rather than risk an unsightly scar arising due to unforeseen complications. 

Want to Learn More? 

If you are interested in more information about nasal reconstruction surgery or cosmetic nasal surgery, please contact Dr. Hung at his Pasadena office at 626-432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292.


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.