An unexpected resource for important skin checks

Last Modified: 1/06/2021

Skin Check

This post was written by Nicole Heller, MSN, FNP-C, PPG – Plastic Surgery.

When most people think about plastic surgery, they think about physical alterations such as lip injections, breast augmentation, adjusted nose silhouettes and body transformations. While these preconceived ideas regarding elective cosmetic procedures are all correct and possible through plastic surgery, one of the specialty pieces of the PPG – Plastic Surgery practice is reconstructive surgery for cancer patients. Specifically, skin cancer patients.

Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70? In our community, there is a prevalence of all types of skin cancer, including squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma. PPG ­– Plastic Surgery is a trusted partner for addressing your concerns about changing skin lesions.

What to expect during a skin check

We offer yearly or biyearly skin checks, performed by me, our nurse practitioner, Nicole Heller. Each patient gets a full head-to-toe assessment of all skin structures. We address any concerning lesions, including those you’ve noticed before and perhaps some you’ve never seen. We listen to our patients’ concerns regarding any changes, as we recognize that you know your body best.

As we walk you through the skin assessment, we will ask questions regarding sun exposure, remarkable sunburns, your occupation or additional sun exposure, family history of skin cancer and personal history of skin cancer.

Early intervention

We are dedicated to providing knowledge so that our patients can be aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer, so that they can catch potential issues earlier and get a biopsy sooner, if necessary. 

Some of the signs and symptoms for melanoma include:

  • Asymmetrical growth
  • An uneven, scalloped or notched border around the mole
  • Different shades of brown, tan, black, red, white or blue mole coloration
  • Larger in diameter
  • Evolves over time

Some of the signs and symptoms for basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma include:

  • Red, irregular spot on skin
  • Dry, flakey area
  • Attempts to heal, but then starts to bleed again at a later date
  • Area of past trauma that is having problems healing now
Teamwork and collaboration

As part of our dedication to delivering exceptional care to cancer patients, the PPG – Plastic Surgery participates in weekly Tumor Board meetings. During these Tumor Board meetings, our providers meet with providers from the Parkview Cancer Institute to review all cases in which an individual was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant skin cancer to ensure that we collaboratively develop the most effective care plan. This approach means that all specialists are represented and have a say in the patient’s course of treatment, from start to finish.

Exciting new offerings

While cancer care is a top priority for the team at PPG – Plastic Surgery, we also want our patients to feel great. With this in mind, we are excited to announce that we are opening an aesthetics skin care division Radiance Plastic Surgery, Aesthetics & Skincare. These two offices will be located side by side for our patients’ convenience. Aesthetic services are a great way to keep your skin glowing, and we’ll be able to support this approach with procedures such as plasma pen, microneedling, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, injectables and more. Look for more information on these procedures and our sister office in the coming months! 


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