Debora Ma, MD - Blue Aspen Plastic Surgery

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, occuring in over half a million Americans each year. Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body, but is most common on sun exposed skin. Dr. Ma works closely with several dermatologists to treat skin cancers of all kinds. Commonly, the dermatologist will detect a suspicious skin lesion on physical examination and biopsy it. If the lesion is a basal cell cancer or a squamous cell cancer, it needs to be completely excised. This completion excision can be done by the dermatologist or by Dr. Ma. If the lesion is on the face, Dr. Ma is often asked to remove the skin cancer. She will plan the incision in a way that results in a minimally visible scar. Commonly facial scars eventually become completely invisible.

The majority of skin cancers can be excised under local anesthetic in the office. In certain cases, such as a recurrent cancer, your dermatologist may advise Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery is a special procedure in which the cancer is shaved off one layer at a time. At the end of the procedure, the cancer is completely removed. The resulting defect can then be reconstructed by Dr. Ma. When you have a MOHS procedure, our office will coordinate your reconstruction with your dermatologist's office.


Melanoma is the most worrisome type of skin cancer. Although fortunately not as common as BCC or SCC, melanoma is far more serious. If the melanoma is caught early, it can be treated with a wide local excision. This requires that an margin of tissue around the melanoma be excised and closed. This is often best done in the operating room, where local flaps can be raised and used to reconstruct the defect in the least visible way possible. Eventually, the scars fade and the defect is minimally visible. If the melanoma is deeper, it is necessary to perform a wide local excision as well as sample the draining lymph nodes to determine if the melanoma has spread. This procedure is done in conjunction with Dr. Ma's general surgery colleagues.

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