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Brown spots…what to look for?

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Posted July 03, 2014 in Surgical procedures

Houston Plastic Surgery brown spot

I’ve noticed a new brown spot.  When should I worry?

You may have been outside this summer and have noticed some new brown spots.  Many of these changes are benign, in which the skin cells show some changes from the sun, but are not cancerous changes.  However, a brown spot could also be melanoma, which should be addressed as soon as possible.

What kind of spots are concerning?

Any brown spot, otherwise known as a lesion, that has been getting bigger, is raised or changed its appearance should be checked out.  Remember your ABCD’s when looking at new spots on the skin.  We worry about spots that are irregular.  Things to look for are (A) asymmetry, when the it is not perfectly round, (B) border irregularities, the edges are uneven or notched, (C) color, the spot is not completely brown and contains areas of black or blue and (D) diameter larger than ¼ inch, melanomas are usually larger than a pencil eraser.  Particularly if you notice a new spot and any of these characteristics are changing, you should see a dermatologist.   Brown spots that have been present for years and haven’t changed are less likely to be cancerous.  However, moles can be benign (non-cancerous) for many years and can turn into more concerning spots.  So, continue to keep an eye on any spot on your skin, even if it has been there for a while.  If you have significant sun exposure in your past, fair skin with history of significant sun burns or a family or personal history of skin cancer, it is wise to find a dermatologist that you trust for routine skin checks.  If in doubt, have it checked!

Who should I have remove a “bump” that is concerning?

Skin lesions (bumps and brown spots) can be removed by a dermatologist, facial plastic surgeon or general plastic surgeon that you trust.  If the initial removal or biopsy finds a cancer or other findings that require further excision, you may need to see a Mohs surgeon or plastic surgeon.  A Mohs surgeon is a dermatologist trained in removing skin cancers in a way that evaluates the skin that is being removed for cancerous cells millimeter by millimeter.  By doing this, you have the best chance of removing all of the cancer while preserving as much normal skin as possible.  A great combination is a Mohs surgeon to remove the area of concern and a facial plastic surgeon or general plastic surgeon, depending on the part of the body, to reconstruct the area.  This way the surgeon removing the cancer is solely focused on getting the best resection possible and the reconstructive surgeon can focus on getting the best aesthetic result.

Posted in: Surgical procedures