Melanoma and Skin Cancer

At Yale Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, our experienced faculty is well versed in the most current forms of melanoma and skin cancer treatment designed to preserve as much of the patient's appearance as possible. 

The earlier melanoma or skin cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be cured. This means that after a diagnosis, treatment must proceed rapidly. Our multidisciplinary faculty is dedicated to helping patients navigate the multitude of options available to them and understanding their benefits, risks, side effects, and probable outcomes. We work with patients' oncologists and any necessary specialists to ensure their treatment plan is completely customized to their individual cases.

Meet Our Melanoma & Skin Cancer Faculty

  • Deepak Narayan

    Professor of Surgery (Plastic); Chief, Plastic Surgery West Haven VA

    Dr. Deepak Narayan specialized in the treatment of melanomas and skin cancers. He graduated from the University of Madras and received his training in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery at the Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University. While at Yale, he completed a research fellowship in Surgical Oncology and is Board Certified in Surgery and Plastic Surgery. As a melanoma surgeon with extensive experience, Dr. Narayan provided patients with a unique resource of treating melanomas as well as reconstructing the defects that can occur from melanoma surgery. In addition, he was an expert in specialized procedures for melanoma treatment, such as sentinel node biopsies, axillary node dissection, radical neck dissection, parotidectomies, iliac node dissections, and isolated limb infusions. His other areas of expertise included hemangiomas and vascular malformations. He pioneered new reconstructive techniques for cancer, and has over 120 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He had an active research interest in melanomas and was a co-investigator in the prestigious, NIH-funded SPORE (Special Program of Research Excellence) Grant. He has won numerous awards for research, teaching, and clinical excellence and has been continually listed in “Americas Top Surgeons” since 2002 and “The Best Doctors in America” since 2007. In addition, he has received the following awards for his research: American Cancer Society, Basic Oncology Research Award 1995 Swebilius Cancer Research Award American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons Research Award 1998, 2009 Patient Care: Yale Melanoma and Skin Cancer,

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    Deepak Narayan, MBBS, FRCS

    1960–2018

    The Department of Surgery mourns the loss of a dear friend, colleague, esteemed professor and faculty member; at 58 years young, Dr. Deepak Narayan lost his battle with cancer on Christmas Eve. As professor of surgery, Residency Program director, and interim director of the Cancer Center’s Melanoma Program, Deepak made remarkable clinical and academic contributions, and held key leadership roles both at Yale and nationally. He will be sorely missed by all who were touched by his life and gifts.

    Deepak was born in India, where he began his medical career. He obtained his Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in the United Kingdom, and joined the Yale Surgery family shortly thereafter when he began his general surgery residency. He completed a research fellowship at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and a subsequent research fellowship in the Departments of Surgery and Genetics at Yale. Deepak completed his general surgery residency at the University of Connecticut Health center in Farmington, where he won every award offered at graduation for clinical excellence, research, humanism, and professionalism. Yale’s plastic surgery residency was next, followed by academic appointment in the Section of Plastic Surgery. Deepak quickly rose the ranks to full professor and chief of Plastic Surgery at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven, where he served for the past 15 years.

    Perhaps Deepak’s greatest legacy was his work in the field of melanoma. He was a longtime member of the Yale Cancer Center’s Melanoma Program, ultimately rising to the level of interim director, when he was afflicted by disease. He will be remembered for his prodigious and vast clinical knowledge base and his ability to develop innovative solutions for the most complex multidisciplinary cases.

    As an inspiring leader and NIH R01-funded surgeon-scientist, he served as a research mentor for more than 37 research fellows, lectured from distinguished podiums around the world, and was published in numerous reputable journals. He held leadership roles with many national organizations, including the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, the New England Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (President 2017-18), and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, among others. Deepak was instrumental in partnering with the local and national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for the successful expansion of the Yale plastic surgery residency program.

    What is not captured in the review of Deepak’s work, is his self-effacing, wry humor, and his keen interest in everything from ornithology to medical history. Deepak is an irreplaceable human being with a generous heart and creative mind. His many friends will not forget his smile, creativity, and friendship. He is survived by his father H.B.N Shetty, brother Prasanth Shetty, and sisters Shobha Shetty and Aruna Gupta. A memorial service is planned for the spring; details will be forthcoming.


Skin Disorders

Melanoma

Overall, the treatment plan will depend on the type and stage of melanoma the patient has. Treatment might include: surgery, isolated limb perfusion and infusion, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or even experimental treatments.

We focus on the diagnostic and surgical aspects of the treatment plan as well as isolated Limb Perfusion and Infusion. The oncologist provides chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and other ancillary care. If the patient has early-stage melanoma, they may need only surgery with no follow-up treatment.

Surgical Procedures
Our faculty members offer the most current surgical procedures available to remove primary and metastatic melanoma from all parts of the body surface. Their goal is to treat melanoma while retaining the natural appearance of the affected area to the highest possible degree. Some melanomas on the skin of the head and neck can be removed with a technique called Mohs surgery. In Mohs surgery, the cancer is removed layer by layer to minimize the amount of healthy tissue that needs to be removed in order to reduce scarring or disfigurement.

In most cases where reconstruction is necessary, our faculty can perform all reconstructive surgery at the same time of the excision (removal) surgery.

Our faculty also removes cancerous lymph nodes and perform resection of the cervical, axillary, inguinal femoral, and iliac lymph node basins for metastatic melanoma. They use the most current surgical techniques, including minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery and robotic surgery. Robotic surgery allows for unmatched precision and requires significantly smaller incisions, which results in less pain, scarring, and recovery time for patients.

Isolated Limb Perfusion and Infusion
Patients with in transit metastases, an aggressive form of recurrent melanoma, of the arms and legs may find successful treatment with isolated limb perfusion and infusion. These patients have numerous melanoma nodules that often rapidly increase in size and quantity. Many patients with this form of melanoma can no longer undergo surgical removal of the nodules.

Skin Cancer

At Yale Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, our faculty and team of experienced professionals work in tandem with patients and their oncologists to create a customized treatment plan.

The surgical procedures to remove these tumors are performed by means of incisions along the natural skin creases to camouflage the healing scars. On occasion, the surgical wound may be large enough to require a skin graft, or a skin flap (skin and fatty tissue) from an adjacent area, to repair the surgical wound.

These operations are commonly performed by our faculty under local anesthesia or general anesthesia in the outpatient setting. Our faculty members offer the most current surgical procedures available to remove skin cancer from all parts of the body surface. Their goal is to treat skin cancer while retaining the natural appearance of the affected area to the highest possible degree.