Skin cancer surgery

Everything you always wanted to ask your plastic surgeon before skin cancer surgery
The best cosmetic surgery results are those that you don’t see
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Plastic Surgery Queensland
Suite 2.01
Mater Private Clinic
550 Stanley Street
South Brisbane QLD 4101

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Plastic Surgery Queensland
Suite 5G
John Flynn Medical Centre
42 Inland Dr
Tugun QLD 4224

With year-round warm weather and sunny skies, Queensland offers a range of outdoor activities. But for all its benefits, our climate also carries risks. Sadly, with a high UV index, Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world. Early detection is critical and surgery is the best treatment option.

Skin cancer types

What are the common types of skin cancer?

Queensland, commonly called the Sunshine State, boasts a warm climate and a range of outdoor opportunities. Unfortunately, this abundance of outdoor activities also presents dangers to your skin. Our state has the highest proportion of all skin cancers in the world. Our exposure to UV radiation means we have a significantly elevated risk of developing skin cancers.

There are three main types of skin cancers, and surgical excision is often the best treatment option.

  • Basal cell carcinoma: represents 75% of the skin cancers we see.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: represents 20% of the skin cancers we see.
  • Melanoma: represents 5% of the skin cancers we see.
Shape

In Australia, over 75% of plastic surgery training focuses on managing basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma and other complex soft tissue tumours. Plastic surgeons are trained in skin cancer surgery of the entire body and the face. The face and head/neck regions have critical aesthetic importance and require careful surgical attention for best outcomes.

Dr Andrew Hadj - Plastic Surgeon Brisbane
Dr Andrew Hadj

Plastic surgeon Brisbane

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) represents most of the skin cancers we see and it is the least deadly type of skin cancer. BCC arises from the basal or lower part of the outermost layer of skin on your body (epidermis). There are two broad categories of BCC (discrete or diffuse) and these categories have different surgical managements, recurrence rates and treatment options. Over 95% of these tumours are related to high UV radiation exposure of the epidermis. 

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) arises from the mid-layer of the epidermis and is the second most common skin cancer.

SCC is associated with

  • Immunosuppression: Suppression of the body’s immune system and its ability to fight infections and other diseases.
  • UV radiation or sun damage.
  • Chronic wounds and burn scars.

Squamous cell carcinoma tumours are responsible for 20% of skin cancers. They are not as dangerous as melanoma, but they do have the capacity to metastasize quickly if not treated urgently. A lymph node examination is important in these particular patients.

Melanoma

Melanoma represents approximately 5% of all skin cancers. It occurs from damage to the melanocytes at the base of the epidermis (cells that are responsible for producing pigment). 

Melanoma is considered the most dangerous type of skin cancer. If detected late, it may have spread to other parts of your body such as the brain, liver, lymph nodes, and lungs. That’s why we call it an aggressive form of skin cancer. If detected early, with surgical intervention, survival rates are high (over 90%). There are on average 15,000 diagnoses each year, yet the number of deaths reduces because of early intervention.

During consultation, we will talk about the type of melanoma that you have and its ability to spread to the lymph nodes.

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Management of melanoma is more involved and I will guide you through the process the entire way. Furthermore, working at a tertiary health care centre (the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Wooloongabba, QLD) gives me access to research and trials that can benefit you immensely.

Dr Andrew Hadj - Plastic Surgeon Brisbane
Dr Andrew Hadj

Plastic surgeon Brisbane

Skin cancers form as either a lesion (lump, ulcer, scar-like plaque) or a nodule on any part of the body. They may scab or bleed upon contact. They can increase in size rapidly or slowly depending on the subtype and your medical conditions or the medications you are taking.  

Please bring your biopsy results and a referral to your first visit. 

Skin cancer awareness programs have been run for many years (Slip/Slop/Slap) and have been very successful. It is never too late to cover and protect your skin from harmful UV radiation. It is important to avoid sun exposure during the summer months between high UV times (11am-4pm) and always use daily sunscreen protection

Where do you operate?

I consult from my private rooms at Mater Private Clinic and I operate as a plastic surgeon at many private hospitals in Brisbane, Queensland.

I can see Gold Coast patients from my private rooms at John Flynn Medical Centre and I operate at John Flynn Private Hospital, Tugun, QLD. 

skin cancer surgery Brisbane
skin cancer surgery Brisbane
skin cancer surgery Brisbane

Skin cancer surgery Brisbane

Skin cancer surgery and recovery

Skin cancer surgery

Skin cancers require surgical excision. The excision needs to be slightly larger than the tumour to ensure a lower level of recurrence. This ‘margin’ is different for all tumour types and will be discussed at your consultation. Ideally, we design our incisions to minimise the scarring impact. 

The best preparation is to avoid alcohol intake and smoking. Make sure you are well-rested. 

Recovery after skin cancer surgery

Day 1-3

Skin cancer surgery is not painful however after surgery you may experience some discomfort. It is important to rest well to avoid excessive swelling and bruising. It is mostly day surgery. 

Early surgery for almost all skin cancers is curative and the smaller the lesion, the smaller the scar and the better the outcome. But follow-up after skin cancer surgery is very important. I will continue to check that the cancer has not come back, manage any side effects, and monitor your overall health. 

If an area has not healed of its own accord after 3-4 weeks, please see your GP for a biopsy to exclude a skin cancer or suspicious lesion.

Antibiotics are usually prescribed following surgery alongside pain relief. 

Working, bathing, exercising and driving?

Skin cancer surgery risks

Risks and complications

The following risks are associated with skin cancer removal surgery:

  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Scar.
  • Recurrence rates (discussed per skin cancer type).
  • Further surgery.

Cost of skin cancer surgery Brisbane

What does the procedure cost?

I participate in the known gap scheme to minimise costs to patients. No other costs are charged over this rate. 

Not everyone is aware of the fact that you can see a plastic surgeon for skin cancer removal. So what is the difference between a mole or skin cancer clinic and seeing a plastic surgeon for skin cancer removal?

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Plastic surgeons have over 10-12 years of experience specifically dealing with skin cancers of the body and face. Skin cancer surgery is oncologically and aesthetically critical for all patients. Mole/skin cancer clinics are often run by local GPs with an interest in skin cancer surgery however they are not plastic surgeons. It is important to ensure the surgeon operating on you is qualified to perform the surgery required, able to provide accurate advice, follow up care, provide the necessary care post-surgery including the requirement for subsequent procedures.

Dr Andrew Hadj - Plastic Surgeon Brisbane
Dr Andrew Hadj

Plastic surgeon Brisbane

It’s also recommended to always seek second opinions if you have concerns. Ultimately you should feel comfortable with the plastic surgeon you are seeing. 

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About Dr Andrew Hadj, Plastic surgeon Brisbane

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