Surgery for Skin Cancer

Affecting more than one million people in the U.S. every year, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. When caught early, skin cancer is treatable, but it may leave your skin with unwanted scars. Seeking out a skilled surgeon can help maintain the integrity of your skin.

Who Should Get Skin Cancer Removal?

Patients who have been diagnosed with skin cancer may be candidates for skin cancer removal. Most patients have seen a dermatologist and have undergone a biopsy which confirms the skin cancer. They are seeking a plastic surgeon for a complete excision of the skin cancer. 

Candidates for skin cancer removal have one or more of the following:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Irregular moles that are flagged as concerning by a dermatologist
  • Suspicious lesions diagnosed by a dermatologist

Once the skin cancer has been removed, the healed skin should match the area around it and create a natural, smooth appearance. For more extensive forms of skin cancer, a specific procedure called Mohs surgery (performed by a specialized dermatologist) may be necessary to remove all traces of cancer.

In-Network Insurance Plans

At Specialists in Plastic Surgery, insurances we are In Network with include:

  • BCBS
  • Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas
  • Medcost Preferred
  • Medicare Part B

What to Expect During Your Skin Cancer Removal

For basic lesions, surgical removal using a small incision can be performed under a local anesthetic. An incision is made around the lesion and the lesion is removed. The incision is then closed using fine sutures. A surgical dressing will be placed over the treatment area following surgery.

More advanced techniques, such as skin or tissue grafts, may be needed to reconstruct large wounds. During these procedures, a portion of healthy tissue is removed from a donor site on your body and transplanted to the treatment area. The donor site can be taken from any part of your body. In most cases, it is taken from an area that is usually concealed under clothing. Incisions will be closed with small stitches, and surgical dressings will be applied.

After Your Surgery

Immediately following treatment, your skin will be swollen, red and likely draining fluid. Surgical drains may be used to collect this excess fluid if it is an extremely large excision. You may experience some discomfort for several days in the treatment area. Your surgeon will discuss whether you will need prescription-strength pain medication. Bandages are typically removed in a few days, and stitches in one week.

In most cases, you should be able to resume normal activities right away, or within one to two days. More extensive procedures will require some downtime. These details will be discussed during your consultation. It is important to protect the treatment area from direct sun exposure for several months. It is impossible to perform scarless surgery–you will have scars following any surgical procedure. Incisions will take 12-18 months to fade and flatten.

Understanding the Risks of Skin Cancer Removal

All surgical procedures, including skin cancer removal, have risks. Some risks include bruising, pain, unpredictable scarring, changes to sensitivity and asymmetry. All of these risks, along with steps you can take to minimize them, will be discussed in-depth during your consultation.

Schedule Your Plastic Surgery Consultation

Our plastic surgeons have over 75 years of combined experience in cosmetic plastic surgery. If you’re ready to learn more about Skin Cancer Surgery, please contact our office in Raleigh to schedule a consultation.


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Raleigh, NC     919-785-0505
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