Tumors or growths of the skin can be benign or malignant. Examples of benign lesions are moles, discolored spots, and cysts. Malignant lesions include basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanomas. The diagnosis is always confirmed by pathological examination, and also the margins are checked carefully to be sure that the tumor has been totally excised.

The signs of tumors are usually visual. You can see the tumor on the skin. Also, sometimes tumors are associated with itching, bleeding, or drainage.

The reconstruction, especially around the face, can be more challenging. This is usually done by advancing a flap of adjacent skin or obtaining a free graft.

The surgery is done under local anesthesia and sedation to obtain more relaxation.

The pathology sections sometimes can take time.

The recovery time varies. If the healing is uneventful, in two to three weeks the area will be healed, especially the face which heals much faster. At times, the healing is by secondary intention and takes longer.

Usually, surgical excision is all that is necessary to take care of these lesions. Rarely, as in the case of melanoma, a more extensive workup needs to be done.

Q: How much pain with the procedure?

A: The lesions are usually skin lesions, so the pain is limited under normal conditions.

Q: Cosmetic results?

A: If the repair is done with an adjacent flap, the color match is better. With a graft,
sometimes there is a little discrepancy between the tones of the skin, but with time this
improves.

Q: Scars?

A: Sometimes scars can be revised with time to improve the results.

Some of these tumors, for example, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas that are not very aggressive, are treated just with the surgical procedure which is all that is needed. Exceptionally, tumors such as squamous cell carcinomas that are more aggressive or melanomas may need a more extensive workup to rule out the possibility of metastasis.

Carcinomas of the skin, especially basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, are not very aggressive and surgical excision with follow up is all that is needed. However, we should not be complacent about the results because with time a squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma may develop metastases to a nearby organ, lungs, or liver. In those cases, more extensive and careful workup will be needed. The pathological slides will sometimes indicate that we are dealing with a tumor that is very aggressive.