The eyelid skin is the thinnest and most sensitive skin on your body. As a result, this is often the first area on your face to show change from sun damage and aging. Unfortunately, sun damage and other environmental toxins not only cause the skin to age but can cause serious damage. Skin cancer of the eyelids is relatively common and several types exist. The presence of a nodule or lesion on the eyelid that grows, bleed or ulcerates should be evaluated. This involves examination and sometimes a biopsy.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell tumors represent the ninety percent of eyelid tumors. These skin cancers grow slowly over months and years. They most often appear as a pearly nodule that eventually starts to break down and ulcerate. Despite being a cancer, these tumors don’t spread to distant areas but rather just continue to grow and infiltrate the surrounding tissue. They typically can be cured by simple excision followed by reconstruction of the defect left behind after the tumor removal.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma
These types of tumors occur much less common but are more aggressive and require more involved care to ensure complete treatment. Again, primary treatment involves removing the tumor, but care must also be taken to ensure the tumor has not spread anywhere, causing larger health problems. Your surgeon will help coordinate this as part of your treatment depending on the size and circumstances of the tumor at presentation.
Skin cancer needs to be removed surgically by a skilled individual who can not only remove the tumor but reconstruct the eyelid or area where the tumor was removed. Sometimes surgeon will do this themselves at a surgical facility with an on site pathologist who can immediately examine the specimen to ensure the whole tumor was removed. Other times, the help of a dermatologic surgeon specializing in Mohs surgical excision will be utilized. This procedure is completed into two steps, the first in the dermatologist’s office with immediate examination of the tumor to ensure its complete removal followed by the reconstructive surgery by your surgeon. Oculo-Facial plastic surgeons are the optimal person to repair these defects as the eyelid is quite delicate. Members of ASOPRS are well versed in the intricacies of the eyelid anatomy and the pitfalls associated with reconstructing this area.