Is There a Method of Closing a Major Wound to the Nose Using, for Example, a "Silly Putty" Rather Than Skin?

My mother is 97 and in excellent health other than some dementia. She also has basil cell which has eaten away an entire nostril. It is wide open and I would guess a perfect target for infection. We were advised against surgery since symptoms began, due to her advanced age and I doubt she could survive what appears to be extensive surgery now. Is there a way to cover and secure the site from infection? Unfortunately there are no available pictures.

Doctor Answers 3

Fix my nose from skin cancer

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For someone who is 97, one might consider Radiation as a treatment option. This would eradicate the tumor so that it does not get worse. It is painless. If desired, one could use a prosthesis and have no reconstruction at all.

Regarding surgery, it is impossible to go over all of the options in such a short space and without seeing what the hole looks like (how deep, wide, etc). In short, many wounds can be left to heal without sutures after the cancer is removed. Some require more extensive reconstructions, such as skin grafts and skin flaps. These procedures can be, and in most cases should be, performed under local anesthesia in an office. I recommend seeing a Physician who regularly handles reconstruction after the removal of a skin cancer. 

Boca Raton Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Nasal wound closure

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Unfortunately I dont see another option for this closure other than a skin graft.This should be easily done under local anesthesia.

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon

Alternative Wound closure/care

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A frustrating problem. I have a couple thoughts: Under light sedation and local anesthesia a good surgeon should be able to completely remove the cancer and then place a skin graft over the wound. The other option is to use Alloderm which is an acellular product made from cadaver skin that would at least give a good covering to the surgical defect. Neither of these would give as good an aesthetic result as a flap from nearby tissue, but if  it could avoid a large surgery, perhaps it would help your mother. If no surgery at all could be performed, look into a wound care nurse to take care of the lesion and help to avoid infection. I wish you the best. 


Dr S


Travis L. Shaw, MD
Richmond Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

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