Original Research

Quantity and Characteristics of Flap or Graft Repairs for Skin Cancer on the Nose or Ears: A Comparison Between Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Plastic Surgery

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Repair Type
Most patients who underwent MMS had surgical defects repaired with a flap vs a graft, and a much higher percentage of patients who had undergone MMS vs surgical excision with plastic surgery had their defects repaired with flaps. Using a visual analog scale score and Hollander Wound Evaluation Scale, Jacobs et al6 found flaps to be cosmetically superior to grafts following tumor extirpation on the nose. The more frequent use of grafts by plastic surgeons could be at least partially explained by larger defect size or by a few outlier larger lesions among an otherwise small sample size. Larger studies may be needed to see if a true discrepancy in repair preferences exists between the specialties.

Referring Specialty
Primary care physician referral comprised a much larger percentage of cases sent for treatment with plastic surgery (24%) compared to MMS (1%). This statistic may represent a practice gap in the perception of MMS and its benefits among our primary care colleagues, particularly among female patients, as a much higher percentage of women were treated with plastic surgery. Important potential benefits of MMS, particularly tissue conservation, cure rates for skin cancer, and the volume of repairs performed by Mohs surgeons, may need to be emphasized.

Scope of Practice
Our colleagues in plastic surgery are extremely gifted and perform numerous repairs outside the scope of most Mohs surgeons. They are vital to multidisciplinary approaches to patients with skin cancer. Although Mohs surgeons focus on treating skin cancers that arise in a narrower range of anatomic locations, the breadth and variety of surgical procedures performed by plastic surgeons is more diverse. Skin cancer surgery may account for a smaller portion of procedures in a plastic surgery practice.

There are several limitations to this study. We did not compare cosmesis or wound healing in patients treated by MMS or plastic surgery. The sample size, particularly with plastic surgery, was small and did not allow for a larger, more powerful comparison of data between the 2 specialties. Finally, our study only represents 1 institution over the course of 1 year.


To provide the best care possible, it is imperative for referring physicians to possess an accurate understanding of the volume of cases and the types of repairs that treating specialties perform on a regular basis for NMSCs. This knowledge is particularly important when there is a treatment overlap among specialties. Our data show Mohs surgeons are performing more complex repairs and reconstructions on even the most cosmetically sensitive areas; therefore, primary care physicians and other specialists may be more likely to involve dermatology in the care of skin cancer.

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