HOUSTON - A young woman from Houston is recovering from reconstructive surgery after having skin cancer removed from her face. She encourages others to protect their skin from the sun, to prevent what she has been going through.
A heads-up, if you watch the video of this story, a few images could be disturbing to you.
It is that time of year when sunbathers flock to the beach or pool. Betsy Bremer remembers a few childhood sunburns but typically does her best to protect her skin. She got concerned when something didn't look quite right.
"I had a little bump on my eyelid for a while, didn't think much of it," Betsy explained. "I noticed it was a little different color, more blood vessels."
She also had one on her nose. Betsy soon found out they were both skin cancer, called basal cell carcinoma. While not potentially life-threatening, like melanoma, Betsy's doctor warned her invasive surgery was needed.
"It was worse than I thought it would be," grimaces Betsy. "At the dermatologist, they asked me if I wanted to see it and when I looked in the mirror, I think I had my first panic attack because there was a pretty big crater on my nose and a lot of my eyelid was missing."
Betsy then turned to Dr. Mirwat Sami with Houston Oculofacial Plastic Surgery to help repair her eyelid and nose.
"Since every layer of the skin in that barrier was missing - the skin, the muscle, the plate of the eyelid," explains Dr. Sami. "I had to reconstruct everywhere back and there is no other match for eyelid tissue, except the eyelid, itself."
That means she had to get creative: taking tissue from Betsy's upper eyelid, bringing it down over her eye for a few weeks to let it stretch and thrive so that she could use the same skin to repair her eyelid.
"I actually maintained its blood supply through a thin membrane containing the blood vessels," says Dr. Sami. "Think of it as a sheer curtain that I pulled down, along with a plate sticking to her lower lid and that membrane. I maintained that for a good two to three weeks so that the blood supply was present. Once the plate had healed into its new position, I was able to sever that membrane, that connection."
It was fairly tough for Betsy to function with only one eye and without her glasses for three weeks, but well worth it.
"Then right here in the office, under local anesthesia, we severed the connection, reconstructed the edge of the lid, and she was able to open her eye again," states Dr. Sami.
They were all thrilled to see it was the perfect match!
Dr. Sami had to do something similar to repair Betsy's nose.
"We can't just take skin from one place and put it somewhere else because it's never the perfect match, texture, contour, color, so I created a flap and reconstructed it into that defect, kept it the same thickness," says Dr. Sami.
Betsy is thrilled with how it has all healed.
"My plastic surgeon was a miracle worker, and it looks great now, but it was hard to picture that when I saw the original," exclaims a smiling Betsy. "The starting point to now is pretty drastic."
Betsy is sharing her story because she knew all about melanoma, and the warning signs for that, but not basal cell carcinoma, and she feels like that's probably the same for others. Early detection is the key to getting it treated as early as possible.
Don't ignore anything pink, red, or crusty on your skin that won't heal.
For more information, click here. https://www.houstonoculofacial.com/oculofacial-reconstructive-procedures-houston/eyelid-skin-cancer