Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery nearly erases all signs of cancer treatment.

Facing skin cancer beautifully

Karen Klimo Mjh

Looking at Karen Climo today, it’s impossible to tell she had surgery on her nose to treat skin cancer. The Charlottesville resident looks the same as she always did, despite the fact that she had a large amount of tissue removed in September 2012.

“Very few people notice that anything is different about me,” remarked Climo.

After seeing her dermatologist for her annual check-up, a nagging itchy spot on her nose was biopsied. The results revealed that Climo had basal-cell carcinoma, a fairly aggressive form of skin cancer.

Climo was referred to Dr. Vandana Nanda,a dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology of Charlottesville, for MOHs surgery, a procedure during which cancerous cells are removed a little at a time.

While the surgery was a success, the procedure left Climo with a hole on her nostril.

Climo made an appointment to see Dr. Elizabeth Chance, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery. 

Without a trace  

Dr. Chance shared that a two-staged procedure using cheek tissue and ear cartilage to reconstruct the defect would give Climo the best result.

“I always want to make sure my patients are com­fortable and understand their options,” said Chance. “I explained to Mrs. Climo that reconstructing her nose would require an extensive surgery to ensure not only that her nose would look similar to her nose before surgery, but also that she could continue to breathe well.”

The first procedure took about two hours, and Climo headed home that same afternoon. Climo saw Dr. Chance multiple times per week between surgeries, making sure that both her nose and ear were healing well. After her second surgery, Climo began to feel like herself again.

“The results were amazing,” commented Climo. “I would have never have thought they could do what they did. Throughout the healing process, things got better each day, and now I feel good. I’m pretty much back to my old self.”

“It always makes my day when I can help patients get back on their feet again,” said Chance. “When we don’t look like ourselves, it can have a big impact on how we feel. My calling is to put people back together, restoring patients’ confidence in themselves and helping them get back on track to enjoying life. Now when I see Mrs. Climo, she’s so happy and animated, talking about her grandchildren and her travels with her husband. Seeing her back to her normal self gives me great happiness.”

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