Cancer Care

Eyelid Skin Cancer Care

Due to long-term, significant exposure to sunlight, one of the most common locations on the body to develop skin cancer is the eyelids and the surrounding area of the face. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common eyelid cancers.

Typically, skin cancers appear as painless raised areas on the skin. In some cases, there may be open ulcers, bleeding, crusting, or alteration of the skin’s appearance or structure. Eyelashes may also fall out. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should have them evaluated. The determination of whether they represent benign or malignant lesions is made through physical examination and biopsy.

Eyelid Skin Biopsy

A definitive diagnosis of skin cancer often involves a biopsy of the suspected area. This entails surgically excising a portion of the nodule or lesion that can be tested for the presence of cancer. Depending on the size and location of the biopsy, reconstructive surgery of the area may be required. The ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeons of the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) are trained to perform both the biopsy and any reconstruction that might be needed.

Eyelid Skin Cancer Removal and Reconstruction

Once cancer is confirmed, the most important task is to completely remove it to keep it from spreading and to minimize the risk of recurrence. Excision of the cancer is performed by your ophthalmologist or sometimes, depending on the size and location of your cancer, in combination with a dermatologist using the Mohs micrographic surgical technique.

After surgery, it may be necessary to repair or reconstruct the area from which the cancer was removed. This is where the expertise of the ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeons of DMEI is crucial. DMEI’s surgeons will use a variety of techniques to restore the function and appearance of the full thickness of the eyelids, surrounding cheeks, brows, midface, and nasolacrimal system.

Techniques of reconstruction may include the use of flaps which involve mobilizing nearby skin, muscle, and/or fat and moving it into the area of the defect, or grafts from the opposite eyelid or other parts of the body such as from behind the ear, the clavicle, or the leg. Reconstruction of the nasolacrimal ducts or part of the surface of the eye may be necessary. Some procedures are deliberately performed in two stages to encourage new blood vessel growth in moved tissues while others have minimal to no further reconstruction necessary. Periocular reconstruction combines both micro- and macro-surgical skill sets that are innately ingrained in the training of our oculoplastic surgeons.

Eyelid Skin Cancer Care at the Dean McGee Eye Institute

Reconstructive surgery associated with eyelid skin cancer requires expertise in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery. The team of surgeons at DMEI has the specialized training and techniques necessary to provide superior eyelid cancer reconstructive outcomes. Browse our physician directory to learn more about our surgeons and call 405.271.1096 or 800.787.9018 to schedule an appointment. We are here to help.