Saving Face: Facial Plastic Surgeons Shed New Light on Skin Cancer

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, and rates of melanoma – the potentially fatal form of skin cancer have been rising steadily for the past three decades.

Basal Cell Carcinomas (most common form of skin cancer) and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (the second most common form) are caused primarily by sun exposure, and develop most commonly on sun-exposed areas, including the face, ears, neck, lips, scalp, and the backs of the hands. Unfortunately, most skin cancers (estimated at around 80%) occur on the face, and can be very disfiguring.

While judicious use of sunscreen and other prevention measures remain the best ways to make a dent in these statistics, early detection and treatment also matters. The first line treatment is almost always surgery to remove the skin cancer. In some cases, this is followed by more advanced reconstructive procedures, such as skin grafts and flaps.

According to the annual survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), 87 percent of facial plastic surgeons saw patients for reconstructive work related to skin cancer in 2014.

In 2014, the nose (68 percent) was the most common site on the face for skin cancer facial reconstruction, followed by the cheeks (16), ears (6) and the forehead (4). Skin cancer and Mohs surgery were the second most common reconstructive technique performed by facial plastic surgeons in 2014. Presently 1 in 5 skin cancers are treated with the skin-saving technique of Mohs surgery, especially on facial areas. 

‘If these cancers are not excised carefully by an expert surgeon, individuals can be left with significant scarring and/or disfigurement,” says Dr. Stephen S. Park, AAFPRS president and a facial plastic surgeon at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “Facial plastic surgeons are seeing more of these patients because we possess a thorough understanding of the structures of the face so we can remove the skin cancer stealthfully while still allowing for aesthetically pleasing results.”

For more information or to schedule an interview with an AAFPRS member, please contact KELZ PR at 646-450-5359 // Patty –