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New Technology and Improved Techniques Arm Dermatologists With Tools to Minimize Facial Scars From Skin Cancer Surgery
Date:2/3/2008

a where the skin was sanded down or stripped migrate over the upper stitch line and effectively hide that line. "The migrating cells effectively seal the scar and blend it in with the surrounding skin," said Dr. Nguyen. Dr. Nguyen noted that both dermabrasion and lasers can be used immediately after surgery on almost any area of the face except the eyelids or lips. The best candidates for these procedures are fair-skinned patients and those without an abundance of oil glands along the stitch line itself.

"In general, the smoother the skin and the fairer the patient, the better dermabrasion or lasers work together with traditional closure techniques to minimize a scar's visibility," explained Dr. Nguyen. "In many cases, adding these methods into the mix can result in an almost scar-less outcome. In fact, these technologies can hide the stitches so well that even under magnification you cannot detect them."

Skin Substitutes as Skin Grafts

While traditional skin grafts in which a person's own skin is removed from another part of the body and is then stitched over the wound are commonly used in skin cancer reconstruction surgery, a newer application of this technique involves using a skin substitute instead of a person's own skin to close the wound. The skin substitutes currently being used contain an animal protein matrix that the body integrates into the scar.

"Skin substitutes are a good option for patients who don't have a lot of healthy skin to use for a graft, such as those with widespread sun damage," said Dr. Nguyen. "Another benefit is that skin substitutes eliminate the need for a second surgery site, and for very deep wounds skin substitutes can be used underneath the skin to plump and shape depressed areas."

Dr. Nguyen believes that the future of facial reconstruction looks bright, with more promising research on the horizon to minimize scarring following skin cancer surgery. "Two frontiers in wound reconstruction will invo
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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