What is Involved with Lip Reconstruction?
The Initial Consultation
Lip reconstruction is typically performed to repair a wound after the removal of a skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in humans, affecting 1 in 5 Americans over their lifetime, and over 1,000,000 in new cases are diagnosed in the US annually, with the state of Washington among the highest rates. Basal cell cancer is the most common skin cancer followed by squamous cell cancer, and then melanoma. Thankfully, due to slow growth and early detection, dying from skin cancer is very rare.
Since Dr. Bhrany specializes in the treatment and reconstruction of facial skin cancers, you may be referred to him by your primary care physician for evaluation of a skin lesion (bump or ulcer) suspicious of a skin cancer. If you have already been diagnosed with nasal skin cancer, you may be referred to Dr. Bhrany by a dermatologist who specializes in Mohs skin cancer surgery (see more below) to discuss the repair of the subsequent wound after your Mohs surgery. If you are referred to Dr. Bhrany with a suspicious lesion, he may perform a biopsy in the office to identify potential skin cancer.
If the biopsy confirms skin cancer, possible treatment options will be discussed. Mohs skin cancer surgery is most commonly recommended.
Mohs skin cancer surgery is a technique to remove skin cancer that is especially useful for treating skin cancers of the face. Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate while maximizing the amount of normal tissue spared during removal. In other words, Mohs surgery often provides the highest chance you will remain cancer free while achieving the best cosmetic outcome. Typically, the Mohs dermatologist will remove the skin cancer in his or her office, and then you will have your reconstruction either later that day or the next day with Dr. Bhrany. Dr. Bhrany works very closely with a number of Mohs dermatologists in the Seattle area and can guide you through the process of your skin cancer treatment. Depending on the size and location of your skin cancer, there are instances when Dr. Bhrany will both remove the skin cancer (called a wide local excision) and reconstruct the subsequent defect at the same setting without Mohs surgery.
During your consultation, a variety of techniques for lip reconstruction are discussed. A method is chosen that results in the best cosmetic and functional outcome for you (learn more about lip reconstruction here). The details of the procedure and post-operative care are explained, and any questions you may have are answered. Once the plan is confirmed, you meet with Dr. Bhrany’spatient care coordinator to schedule a surgery date.
For patients requiring either moderate sedation or general anesthesia for your procedure, you may be asked to come in for a pre-operative visit prior to your surgery. This visit typically involves a pre-operative history and physical at Dr. Bhrany’s office with his physician assistant or nurse practitioner and a meeting with our anesthesiologists. This visit is performed to assess any medical issues you may have and to ensure that your surgery is conducted in the safest manner. Pre and post-operative instructions are reviewed, and this visit is also an opportunity for you to ask additional questions that may have arisen after your initial consultation.
Day of Surgery
If you undergo your Mohs surgery the day before reconstructive surgery with Dr. Bhrany, you will arrive to the operating room typically 90 minutes before your scheduled surgery start time (which is provided by a phone call the night before). If you are having your Mohs surgery on the same day as your reconstructive surgery, you will come to the operating room directly from your Mohs surgeon’s office after he or she has completed the skin cancer removal.
Once in the pre-operative area, you will meet the nursing and anesthesiology staff who will take care of you during your procedure. Dr. Bhrany will meet with you and your family prior to the procedure to review the procedure and discuss any last-minute questions you have. After the procedure is performed, you will be taken to the recovery room. You will have a bandage in place typically you will remove it the next day at home since most lip reconstructions are performed as outpatient surgery. You will be sent home with detailed post-operative instructions and pain medication. Dr. Bhrany will call you on the night of surgery to ensure that you are doing well and to answer any questions you may have. Some larger reconstructions may require an overnight stay in the hospital. In that instance, he and his team will see you the next morning to remove your bandage and discharge you home.
Post-operative Visits and Follow-up Care
Your first post-operative visit will be approximately one week after surgery to remove your sutures and to monitor your healing. You will then follow-up at one month after surgery and then every three months for the first year after your surgery to ensure adequate healing. For reconstructions that require two stages, you will be scheduled for the second stage approximately 3 to 4 weeks after your initial surgery. (Learn more about lip reconstruction here.)