Melbourne Plastic Surgery Blog

Melbourne Plastic Surgery Blog

Your skin cancer questions

Thursday, April 17, 2014

With summer over and many of us feeling just a teeny bit guilty about time spent in the sun (even with our sunscreen and cover ups) now is the perfect time to take stock of your skin and moles and get them checked.  Since its introduction MoleMap at Brighton Plastic Surgery has provided patients full body peace of mind when it comes to their skin and any areas of concern. 

We've collated a few of the most popular skin cancer questions patients raise and asked plastic surgeon Dr Ramin Shayan to share some insights:

  •  What’s the difference between a BCC and an SCC?

Firstly not all types of cancer are the same. BCC and SCC are the main category of skin cancers known as non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs).

A Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is a growth within the basal cells of the skin, that give rise to the new skin cells that renew our skin as part of normal life. In this process, mature skin cells (keratinocytes) shed off the surface and are replaced by younger fresher cells beneath, that start as the basal layer. This type of skin cancer is essentially not able to spread  (a small group that do spread have been described as having <0.05% chance of spreading!!), however it does keep growing larger in the local area. Depending on the type of BCC, it may keep burrowing deeper. 

A Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is also an uncontrolled growth of skin cells, but this occurs in more mature layers of the skin. Depending on the type, these cancers may also spread if neglected, but is unlikely to do so if excised in a relatively timely fashion.

  • Why did my doctor say it was OK to wait a few months to have surgery – isn't it a cancer? 

The answer is that 'cancers ain't cancers'. That means, that just the word cancer is not a death-sentence. A cancer is simply a growth of cells that has lost the normal ability of the body's cells to sense when there is something wrong, and to switch it off. There are many different types of cancer, originating in many different organs. Whilst some cancers do carry a poor survival rate, generally, the non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) - BCC and SCC are among the better types of cancer to have if caught early. If a BCC or SCC is in the early stages, it is best to treat them in the early stages however there is no additional consequence if we treat these within 30 or so days.

  •  Are all skin cancers melanomas? And if my skin cancer is not a dangerous one - why bother to get it removed?

No, in fact most are not. BCCs and SCCs make up the vast majority of skin cancers in Australia however some melanomas may masquerade as BCCs or SCCs so it is important to get the specimen sent to a pathologist once it has been removed. If it does turn out to be a melanoma, there is a range of different treatment steps that must be undertaken, depending on the depth and other characteristics of the melanoma.

  •  Do skin cancers run in the family or is it because of the sun?

A good question - there is a lot we are yet to find out about the genetics of cancer.

Whilst there are some familial cancers, most skin cancers are due to exposure to the sun. Of course fair skinned people are more susceptible to sun damage and certainly one does inherit their skin type from their ancestors.  If there is a family history of skin cancer it is crucial to discuss this with your doctor.  

If you have any specific questions about skin cancer or would like to find out more about MoleMap - phone us on 03 9592 0522.
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What is lip lift surgery?

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A lip lift is a procedure designed to lift the top lip in people who have a thin upper lip. It is a permanent solution  and is most beneficial for those wishing to improve the perceived volume of their lips and aesthetic of their smile and facial proportions. A lip lift can also reduce the signs of ageing often prevalent around the mouth.

Lip lift surgery involves a surgeon carefully removing a small amount of skin under the nose in order to “lift” the upper lip.  The procedure is performed as day surgery, usually under local anaesthetic.  The procedure generally takes less than an hour. Lip lift surgery is tailored to each individual to ensure natural looking results are achieved.

It is worth noting that a lip lift is only performed on the top lip.  Often lip fillers are also used in the bottom lip to create balanced, voluminous lips.

Interested to find out more or book a lip lift consult? Feel free to call us on 03 9592 0522 or submit a confidential enquiry via our website.

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Many of our patients seeking a flatter stomach come armed with one question – what is right for me – a  tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) or liposuction (body contouring)??

These two procedures are very different and the best option for you will depend on your specific circumstances and what you are trying to achieve. Skin and muscle laxity play an important role in determining the best approach, as do your individual goals/aspirations.

We asked Mr Mutimer, a well respected Melbourne Plastic Surgeon to explain the key differences and considerations:

LIPOSUCTION:

Liposuction is good for people who generally have good skin and muscle tone, and who want to remove localised fatty tissue and stubborn excess fat. Localised fat deposits may sometimes be an inherited trait and typically do not respond to dieting or exercise.

Liposuction will not eliminate extra skin, stretch marks or issues stemming from loose abdominal muscles.

Liposuction can be used on other areas of the body such as the arms, legs or bottom. Whilst both procedures require a general anaesthetic, liposuction is less invasive than a tummy tuck which involves a surgical incision and a longer recovery time.

TUMMY TUCK:

As mentioned above abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is a more invasive procedure with a longer recovery time. It is generally recommended for patients who have stretched skin and/or loose stomach muscles (not excess fat).

This procedure uses an incision within the lower abdomen to remove the excess tissue and tighten associated muscles.  It is because of the abdominal wall muscle reconstruction that a longer recovery time is required. Tummy tucks are often considered by people who have had significant weight loss or have abdominal issues following pregnancy.

It’s also important to know that some patients have a combination of excess fat, stretched skin and /or muscle laxity. In these situations people often opt for a combination procedure, having an abdominoplasty with liposuction at the same time. 

WHICH PROCEDURE IS BEST FOR ME?

It is important to determine what specific issues you are faced with in order to then recommend which procedure is right for you. We recommend a consultation with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who will be able to assess your issues and advise the best course of action.

Generally, if you have localised areas of fat liposuction is the best course of action. For loose stomach muscles and/or sagging skin – a tummy tuck would likely be recommended.

For more information or to book a body contouring consultation feel free to call us on 03 9592 0522 or submit an enquiry via our website.


Preparing for a facelift

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Deciding to undergo facelift surgery is a big decision, one requiring careful consideration after consultation with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon.

Referred to as “rhytidectomy” a facelift is designed to smoothen loose skin and wrinkles on the face and neck, tighten underlying tissues which have become lax with age, and gets rid of fatty facial issue. As a result a patient undergoing facelift surgery can expect the face to appear firmer and more youthful.

Choosing the right Specialist Plastic Surgeon for your facelift is important and you should ensure that you are comfortable with the specialist chosen, have checked their credentials, feel satisfied with their level of expertise in performing facial surgery and that, after consultation, you both have realistic expectations on what can be achieved.

Choosing the right surgeon aside, preparing for your surgery, and post-surgical care are both important factors to ensure you do everything you can to get the best outcome.

Patients who elect to undergo face lift surgery at Brighton Plastic Surgery are given a comprehensive list of pre and post-surgical instructions. This post aims to summarise some of this information, providing an overview of what you should expect when undergoing this type of plastic surgery.

Two Weeks Before Your Face Lift Surgery

Two weeks before your scheduled surgery you should expect to meet with your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for a final consultation. Any administrative matters are generally tended to at this point and you will be given detailed instructions on pre and post-operative care.

You should cease smoking at least 2 weeks prior to undergoing facelift surgery. Smoking is known to impede the healing process. If continued, blood flow, which carries all the healing properties to your wounds is significantly reduced and will cause delays in your recovery or could cause wound breakdown. Better still why not use your upcoming surgery as a catalyst to stop smoking all together!?

Aspirin and other medications known for their blood thinning properties should be avoided at this point.  Other medications to cease 2 weeks prior to surgery include anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins or herbal/complementary medicines.

It is critical that you discuss any medications you take with your Surgeon at both your initial Consultation, and when you meet with them 2 weeks before your procedure.  They will advise what you need to stop taking and what you may need to start taking. To ensure a successful surgical outcome it is important that you follow your surgeon’s directions without deviation.

48 Hours Before Facelift Surgery

You should refrain from drinking alcohol 48 hours before your facelift procedure.  Alcohol will dehydrate you and prolong your recovery period. You should follow any additional instructions provided to you by your Surgeon at this time including taking any additional medications required.

The Day of Your Face Lift Surgery

Have a good shower and thoroughly wash your hair on the morning of surgery. Do not put any hair products in your hair, including hairspray.

Bring comfortable loose clothing with you on the day of your surgery. Tops should be buttoned or zipped down the front, so nothing will pull at your wounds. This should also be the case for sleeping attire. Easy to slip on shoes are essential to avoid bending over after surgery.

Facelift surgery usually takes between 3-6 hours depending on each patient’s specific needs.  Facelift surgery is performed as an inpatient procedure  and is performed under general anaesthesia. You can expect to be in hospital for 1-2 nights after your surgery.

You will need to ensure that you have pre-organised a responsible adult to pick you up from hospital and have them stay with you day and night for the first 48 hours after you are discharged.

Face Lift – Post Operative Care

There will be many specific instructions provided to you to follow post-surgery. It is important that these are strictly adhered to in order to facilitate the best surgical outcome.

After your surgery you should expect some post-operative swelling, bruising and/or numbness for some time - this can continue for a matter of weeks or months.  All incisions and dressings should be kept dry until your Surgeon indicates that showering or bathing is ok.

It is important to keep your head elevated for the first few weeks after your surgery. We suggest sleeping semi reclined on 2-3 pillows, on your back. This will aid your recovery.

You should aim to keep a light schedule in the weeks following your surgery to allow for adequate healing time.  Extra rest is important to promote proper healing. Refrain from physical activity (i.e. exercise) for first 2 weeks, after which time you may gradually increase activity. No strenuous exercise or activity is recommended for 6 weeks after surgery (gym, yoga etc).

Deciding to undergo face lift surgery is a decision that should not be taken lightly.  If it is something that you are considering we recommend booking a consultation with Mr Mutimer, a Melbourne based Specialist Plastic Surgeon. He’ll be able to inform you on all aspects of the surgery, perform a full assessment of your suitability, discuss expected outcomes and answer any questions that you may have,

For more information or to book a facelift surgery consultation feel free to call us on 03 9592 0522 or submit an enquiry via our website.