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  • Chris Thiagarajah MD

How a Denver Oculoplastic Surgeon treats Skin Cancer on the Eyelid


As an oculoplastic surgeon in Denver, I see a lot of skin cancer on the eyelid...a lot. One of the biggest regrets that patients have concerning eyelid cancer is that they did not seek out treatment sooner. Often, patients will try to convince themselves that what they have is a "stye" or the growth has been there for years. Often skin cancer reconstruction is less complicated and involves less removal of the eyelid if the lesion is smaller.


The patient on the left had a growth on the eyelid that she thought was a stye. A biopsy was performed and the results came back as basal cell carcinoma.

What are the next steps once someone knows that they have skin cancer on the eyelid proven by a biopsy? The decision has to be made not whether to remove the skin cancer but how. Skin cancer of the eyelid that is allowed to grow can grow over the edge of the eyelid destroying it but also to the tear duct, eye socket and rarely the rest of the body.

The method I used for skin cancer removal is MOHs surgery and reconstruction. In this situation a Mohs surgeon removes the skin cancer and then


the patient comes to my office and I reconstruct the eyelid cancer. The advantages of having an oculoplastic surgeon reconstruct the eyelid is that the eyelid has function and reconstruction is critical. The eyelid is NOT like the skin of your leg or arm where the tissue just has to be tightened and put back into place. The eyelid has muscle, skin and conjunctiva. Each part of the eyelid has function and needs to be reconstructed back in place. As a result an oculoplastic surgeon is the only one who has the skill set to reconstruct this type of tissue.

The patient above has had the cancer removed by a Mohs surgeon. In this case the cancer is completely removed. After removal of the skin cancer, the defect of the eyelid remains. This patient was very lucky. There was a relatively small amount of skin cancer on the eyelid that was removed. Most patients with a lesion that size would often have a large part of their eyelid removed.

I used stitches to reconstruct the eyelid. The picture below is the patient after 1 month after surgery. The area still has a little redness but is healing very well.



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