Lip Lesion Surgery Sydney – Lip Cancer Surgery with Dr Kernohan
- Worried about a lip spot that doesn’t heal?
- Want to get rid of that lip lesion?
- Worried it might be cancer?
A lip lesion could be harmless but can be harmful. You need to take early action to identify if it is cancerous and avoid future facial damage. Lip lesion surgery done by a specialist plastic surgeon can carefully excise the lesion and help restore the beauty of your smile, lips and face.
Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Michael Kernohan has a range of techniques for lip cancer removal and lip reconstruction surgery. These facial plastic surgery techniques allow him to remove the tumour with an excellent aesthetic and functional outcome – minimising any deformity and scarring.
Why Have Lip Lesion Removal?
Lips help you smile and play an important role in speech and eating. Lip lesions can grow suddenly, without prior notice. They can be cosmetically unsightly, especially if the lesion ulcerates, bleeds, or grows to deform the shape of your mouth.
Any lesion growing on the lip can be malignant or benign. SCC Squamous cell carcinoma and BCC basal cell carcinoma are two common types of lip cancer that can grow around your mouth. Surgical removal of these lip lesions is usually the next logical step.
Given the aesthetic and functional importance of your lips, and the technical difficulty that lip surgery poses, only expert surgeons should remove lip lesions. Specialist Plastic Surgeons, like Dr Michael Kernohan, get years of specific training to remove lip tumours reducing any damage to your smile or impacting your ability to eat and speak.
“It’s important not to any leave lip lesion untreated. If it’s there for a while and it hasn’t gone away on its own, you should probably make an appointment to find out exactly what it is.” Dr Kernohan
There are different kinds of lip lesions. Some are cancerous (malignant lesions) and some are not as harmful (benign lesions).
When something starts growing on your lip, it’s usually temporary or benign and requires no surgical treatment. A herpes simplex infection can cause vesicles around your lips, but these usually go away within a couple of weeks. Actinic Cheilitis (farmer’s lip), on the other hand, is a dry and flaking spot that often affects the lower lip. It’s usually due to sun exposure and lip dryness, and hence the treatment is moisturizers and lip balm.
However, some lip lesions do not go away on their own and need medical intervention. These are the lesions that Dr Kernohan can help treat – either with or without lip surgery:
Different Types of Lip Lesions Types
1. Lip BCC Basal Cell Carcinoma
A BCC Basal Cell Cancer is the most common type of skin cancer, and it affects the lips as well. It is more likely to affect the upper lip than the lower lip. This type of lip cancer can appear as a non-healing lip wound, usually shiny or pink, and can grow into a tumour and cause deformity of the lips. It can also look like a flat, red-black growing tumour on the lip. Lip tumour excision is usually the best treatment for BCC of the lips.
2. Lip SCC Squamous Cell Carcinoma
An SCC Squamous Cell Cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer, and it also grows on the lips. SCC of the lips is more likely to grow on the lower lips. Squamous cell cancer of the lips appears as non-healing wounds with raised edges and can cause redness and scaling. Sometimes, they can also grow into a tumour on the lips. SCC is more likely than BCC to spread to nearby tissues, lymph nodes, and distal organs (bones and lungs). This is why you should always get a plastic surgeon to check a lip lesion. Surgical excision of the lip tumour is the treatment of choice for squamous cell cancer of the lips. SCC and BCC are both called non-melanoma skin cancer.
3. Lip Melanoma
Melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer that can affect the lips. It usually appears hyperpigmented, irregular and changes shape and size quite rapidly. Lip melanoma is rare, however, it can rapidly spread if not treated early on. Always seek early diagnosis and treatment.
4. Lip Venous lake
Sometimes, a dark blue round lesion starts growing on the lip. It appears as a normal bulging part of the lip, only with a darker colour. These lip lesions are called venous lakes. The cause of venous lake is dilated venules (little veins) inside your lips. Although venous lakes are benign and often go on their own, some might persist and cause cosmetic concerns or pain. Lip surgery can usually be done to treat a venous lake quickly.
How Do I Know if I Have a Lip Melanoma or Lip Cancer?
Not every growth on your lip is cancer. However, it would be wise to have any new suspicious lip lesions checked by a specialized physician. Suspicious signs and symptoms of lip cancer include:
- New bulging growth
- Non-healing wound
- Ulcerating and bleeding wound
- Wound with raised edges
- Lip tumour growing for several weeks
You should also watch for signs of cancer of the lips. Although 95% of lip tumours grow on the lower lips, both lips can still be affected.
The risk of lip cancer increases with:
- Excessive exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation)
- Using tanning beds
- Having a fair skin
- Tobacco smoking and chewing
- Immune system deficiency
Dr Kernohan offers several treatment options for lip cancer and benign lip lesions. This depends on the type of lip tumour you have (benign or malignant), how invasive it is, and where it is located.
Lip lesion removal surgery by a surgeon is usually the best choice for patients with lip cancer. Non-surgical treatment options (laser surgery and cryotherapy) can also be a good option for benign lip lesions.
“There are different types of treatments suitable for different types of lip lesion and lip cancer. Depending on your personal situation, we’ll discuss the optimal treatment plan for you.” Dr Kernohan
Several surgical procedures can be used to remove tumours of the lips. The choice of procedure depends on the size of the tumour, its location, and its type (BCC, SCC, Melanoma, or venous lake). In general, Dr Kernohan will use one or more of the following methods:
Lip tumour excision with primary closure
Dr Kernohan uses this method to remove small lip cancers and benign tumours that affect less than 1/3 of the lip length. Primary closure means that the surgeon will not use skin grafts or any skin manipulation techniques to close the wound. He would just expertly approximate the wound edges together using very fine suture lines so that it heals with minimal deformity and scarring.
Lip tumour excision with skin graft
This lip lesion removal surgery technique is usually used for larger lip tumours – those that would cause lip deformity if removed completely. Without skin grafting, surgery could lead to a crooked lip and smile. There are several skin grafting techniques that Dr Kernohan uses to reconstruct the lips after tumour removal surgery. A skin graft does not necessarily have to be taken from a distant part of the body. It can be a piece of normal skin that’s slightly relocated from the nearby chin and cheek skin.
Other Surgical Procedures to Remove Lip Tumours
W-Plasty and Z-Plasty
These lip tumour removal procedures are advanced plastic surgery techniques to remove lip tumours and reconstruct the defect. The cut wounds of W- and Z-plasty are shaped like a W and Z respectively. This irregular wound shape gives Dr Kernohan more freedom to move the nearby skin to fix the defects and reconstruct your lips. This prevents skin contraction and mouth deformity. Moreover, W- and Z-plasty lead to better healing and minimal scarring after surgery.
Mohs surgery (Dr Kernohan does not perform Mohs but can refer you to a Mohs surgeon if required)
This refers to the technique where the doctor sends tissue samples to the lab directly during the surgery during excision. The pathologist will tell the doctor if the surgical margins are free of cancer cells. Once it is clear, the doctor will close the wound or reconstruct the lips using one of the above-explained methods. If the surgical margins are not free, he will remove more tissue before suturing the lips. Mohs surgery for lip tumours is helpful in that it allows the doctor to remove as little tissue as possible – just enough to treat the cancer.
Non-Surgical Treatment of Lip Lesion
There are wide variety of non-surgical treatment alternatives to lip surgery. The choice of lip lesion removal procedure depends on the type and size of lesion you have. These methods may help
- Laser removal: This is also called laser surgery or laser therapy. A medical laser device can be used to burn and remove small lesions of the lip.
- Cryotherapy: Also called freezing therapy or cold therapy. This is a famous dermatologic treatment method for small superficial tumours. Liquid nitrogen is used to burn and treat venous lakes and small lip lesions.
- Radiotherapy: In case you have lip cancer, radiotherapy might be necessary to burn any cancerous cells after lip surgery.
- Chemotherapy: Some invasive and metastatic forms of BCC and SCC need chemotherapeutic agents to be properly treated after lip surgery.
You should expect to answer questions like:
- When did you first notice the lip lesion?
- Has your lip lesion changed colour?
- Has your lip lesion changed size?
- How fast is the lip lesion growing?
- Does the lip tumour cause any pain, tingling, itch, or bleeding?
These will help Dr Kernohan form a better idea about what you might have. If he suspects that it might be lip cancer (BCC or SCC), he might take a small tissue biopsy and send it to the lab for analysis.
Depending on the pathology results, you might be scheduled for surgery at a later day, or might be recommended a more extensive cancer care plan that includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and lip surgery. Treatment for lip cancer usually requires a multidisciplinary approach.
Dr Kernohan will let you know if and when you should stop any blood-thinning medications. You should also come to the hospital/clinic on an empty stomach.
Lip cancer excision is usually a 1-day procedure. This means that, in most cases, you won’t spend the night at the hospital.
After the removal of your lip lesion, you will be monitored for a couple of hours. If all is okay, then you will be discharged home.
Lip lesion removal surgery is usually done under local anaesthesia, which means that you would be awake during surgery. However, you might be given a sedative to help you relax. This means, however, that you can’t drive home after lip surgery. This is why we recommend that you make prior plans to get yourself home after the procedure.
“Even if we went through the details of the procedures before the intervention, I was still a bit worried the day of the intervention. But there was nothing to worry about” said one of Dr Kernohan’s patients.
Recovery after lip surgery is usually straightforward. The wound to your lip, chin, or cheeks will take around 1 week to fully close.
You can usually go back to work after 1-3 days of your lip tumour removal sydney procedure. You can practice sports that don’t involve any physical contact. Running and jogging and okay, but football and basketball are not, due to the high risk of trauma.
You might feel some tightness in the treated lip at first. Eating, drinking, and talking might feel a little unusual at first. Moving your lips might not feel natural and you might become too conscious of it. This is because the deeper tissue takes some time to heal. It contracts, and then relaxes with time, and should feel like normal after a few weeks.
Thanks to the excellent lip reconstructive techniques, Dr Kernohan will hopefully be able to maintain your natural smile and minimize any post-op scarring. The shape of your lips and scars will develop over months after your surgery and will assume the final shape after around 1 year.
Lip Surgery Potential Risks and Complications
Lip lesion removal is associated with potential risks and complications, just like it is the case with any other surgical procedure. To minimize the risks, make sure to choose your surgeon wisely and follow his recommendations.
Check out more details about the risks of plastic surgery.
Lip Lesion Sydney Cost & Fees – How Much Is Lip Lesion Removal Sydney?
The cost of lip lesion removal in Sydney is dependent on the type of lesion you have, the skill of the surgeon or doctor performing the procedure and some other factors. Keep in mind that the fee shouldn’t be the one and only criteria when choosing the surgeon to perform your intervention.
If you want to find out about lip lesion medicare coverage, check out item numbers here.
For more details, contact Dr Kernohan’s team to schedule an appointment or get a cost estimate. It’s important to mention that there is a lip lesion removal payment plan or surgery financing options available.
How to Find the Best Lip Lesion Removal Surgeon in Sydney
Which doctor does lip surgery? There are several types of medical doctors and surgeons that offer treatment for lip tumours, however, the skills of a plastic surgeon offers several advantages.
The lips have several layers – skin, fat, muscle, and mucosa. Lip surgery can be complicated, and technically very challenging. This is especially true with large lip tumours that necessitate facial or lip reconstruction surgery after removal.
The biggest challenge is in removing the lip tumour without ruining a patient’s smile or interfering with the ability to eat and speak. Moreover, lip surgery can lead to an unsightly scar, especially with large tumours, if not performed by a specialist plastic surgeon.
Dr Kernohan, one of the top lip surgeons in Sydney, uses cutting edge techniques to:
- Reduce facial and chin scarring after lip tumour removal procedure
- Help Maintain normal speech and eating functions
- Help Maintain the natural curvature of your mouth
- Reduce or Prevent any deformities in your smile
- Perform lip reconstruction after the removal of large lip tumours
Lip Surgery FAQs
How do they remove lip cancer?
- Lip cancer is removed with wide surgical excision or with Mohs surgery. The wound is then closed with primary closure (direct suturing), tissue reconstruction and closure, or with skin grafting.
What is the survival rate of lip cancer?
- Lip cancer has, in general, a high rate of survival. Up to 92% of patients live for more than 5 years. Lip cancer is usually successfully treated with surgery, so the cancer is cured after removal if it has not spread.
Where does lip cancer spread?
- Depending on the type, lip cancer can spread to surrounding organs, lymph nodes, bones, the lungs, and the brain.
What does the start of lip cancer look like?
- Cancerous lip lesions can sometimes look like your regular chapped lip. However, this wound tends to take very long to heal. Lip cancer can also appear as a growth, ulcer, flat hard lesion, or growing mass.
How is squamous cell carcinoma of the lip treated?
- SCC of the lips is treated with lip removal surgeries (Mohs surgery or wide surgical excision) and a range of reconstructive techniques (Z-plasty, W-plasty, Skin grafting, and primary closure).
Does lip cancer spread?
- This depends on the type of lip cancer. Melanoma is most likely to spread, lesser chance with SCC, and least chance with BCC. Take no chances with lip cancer – always seek early detection and treatment.
Does lip cancer look like a cold sore?
- Lip cancer can look like a cold sore, however, it tends to be more persistent, or changes shape, colour, and size over weeks.
How common is skin cancer on lips?
- Cancer of the lips is not a very common type of cancer.
Is the dark spot on my lip cancer?
- Not every new spot on your lips is lip cancer. If a new spot is growing and changing shape, size, or colour, you should have the plastic surgeon check it as soon as possible.
How do you get rid of lip lesions?
- This depends on the type of lip lesion. Herpes lesions can usually resolve on their own. The treatment for inflammatory lesions might be creams and hydration. The suitable treatment for tumours and lip cancer is lip cancer surgery.
What is a lesion on the lip?
- A lesion on the lip is any growth, ulceration, and change in shape, colour, texture, and feel of the lip.
Why do I have a small bump on my lip?
- The small bump on your lip can have many explanations. Herpes infection, lip cancer, and venous lakes can cause a bump on the lips.
Further Reading and Medical Sources on Lip lesion removal:
- Advancement Flaps – StatPearls
- Surgical options for treatment of lip and perioral tumors: report of 5 cases
- Oral Lesion Excision – What You Need to Know
- Lesion Removal – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
- Lip cancer – Diagnosis and treatment
Dr Michael Kernohan – Specialist Plastic Surgeon in Sydney NSW
Dr Michael Kernohan is a Sydney Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon providing a wide range of services from skin cancer to cosmetic surgery for the face, nose, breast and body.
He also offers complex reconstructive procedures following trauma and a range of cancer treatments using the most innovative and up-to-date treatment options.
Dr Kernohan is able to care for both public and private patients and currently has appointments in five Sydney hospitals and has an additional leadership role as Director of Surgical Specialities.
His main clinic is located in Campbelltown and he has 4 other locations – Bowral, Liverpool, Surry Hills (city) and Gregory Hills opening in late May – servicing patients in Sydney Southwest and Southern Highlands.