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Category: Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

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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.