First Mohs Surgery Lead to One-sided Eyelid Lift

I always thought of skin cancer as either a mole gone bad or a dark spot that didn’t look right.

My mother often fretted about the mole on my back.

“You should have that watched,” she said, repeatedly.

Nothing came of it.

She was also vigilant about the “beauty mark” (a euphemism for mole) on my chin. She said I should cut, not tweeze, the dark hairs that grew out of the mole. Some said that if you plucked hair out of a mole, it could turn cancerous.

This is not true.

Squamous cell near my eye

The first skin cancer that I did get – squamous cell – had nothing to do with a mole. It was a persistently flaky, tiny white area near my right tear duct. I thought it was just dry skin. It was a while ago and so I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I imagine that a dermatologist noticed it on a skin check.

Mohs surgery experience

Its removal by Mohs surgery was my introduction to a procedure I have had so many times I lost count. I have had it from the top of my head to the side of my ankle.

I was reassured by the words in situ – on the skin – and intrigued by the idea that a specialist would remove it layer by layer until clean margins appeared. And I was impressed by the Boston doctor who did it. Athletic-looking like a runner, he dashed from room to room to check on patients and tell them if they needed more surgery or if they were done.

Most sat in the waiting room before being called back into a room. Because it was my eye, it was hard to see. So I stayed on the exam table.

When he returned, he said he got it all.

But that wasn’t the end.

Skin graft from my eyelid

The hole needed to be patched.

I went down the hall to a specialist in cosmetic and reconstructive eye plastic surgery.

She patched the hole with a piece of skin from my eyelid. She also put a stent in the tear duct to keep it open.

Afterwards, she said she had given me an eye lift. I asked if she could do the other side too. Sadly, she said "No".

For awhile I had thought my eyelids were drooping. On a break from writing, I often walked over to chat with a friend who sat on the other side of the newsroom. If I was in a goofy mood, I would take my index fingers and pull up my eyelids, simulating an eyelid left.

“You look like a deer in the headlights,” she said.

I wasn’t going to get plastic surgery, anyway.

Tear ducts post surgery

The area healed well. It was small, so I didn’t end up looking uneven. The tiny stent eventually fell out.

But ever since then, the tear duct on my right eye hasn’t worked as well as the other. The right eye is dryer. If I don’t put lubricating drops in it (and the other eye) at night, I have an irritated, red eye in the morning.

It’s a small price to pay for getting rid of cancer.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Have you ever been diagnosed with melanoma?