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The Doctors
May 15, 2019

Patient Story: When A Pimple Was Actually Skin Cancer

by Zara Jethani

In this incredible story about a remarkable patient, which aired on “The Doctors”, what looked like a tiny pimple on a patient’s nose, turned out to be a very deeply seated cancer. Her dermatologist referred her to Dr. Kian Karimi. What happened next will shock you.

Cailin’s Story

Cailin observed a persistent small dark-colored scab on the surface of her nose. The spot would start bleeding, scab, and then go away. When it kept coming back,  she decided to get it checked out. Her dermatologist told Cailin that she had skin cancer and that unfortunately her infiltrative basal cell carcinoma (BCC or basal cell cancer) was aggressive, affecting the deeper tissues of her nose and he would have to refer her to a plastic surgeon, Dr. Kian Karimi.

Fortunately basal cell carcinoma is curable when treated and removed in a timely and appropriate fashion. For several weeks Cailin went to Dr. Karimi’s office and get layer after layer of her nose and face taken out to remove the cancer. “The first time I saw my face, I almost passed out,” Cailin said.

Dr. Karimi removed the cancer through multiple stages of excision (cutting out the affected tissue) and was in direct communication with Providence Saint Johns Health Center Pathology Department to assure that there were no cancer cells remaining.

Cailin then went through the lengthy process of having her nose repaired. “Nasal reconstruction is always very challenging but this is the most complex case I’ve ever encountered,” said Dr. Karimi. Being a highly trained expert head and neck surgeon and facial plastic surgeon, he was able to repair the defects on Calin’s nose with minimal cosmetic deformity. This kind of procedure is most commonly performed with the patients completely awake using local anesthetic.

Cailin is now a skin cancer survivor who believes the experience showed her that she is strong, resilient, and brave.

What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

The most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma can occur anywhere on the body but is particularly seen on parts of the body exposed to the sun. Most often presenting as a small slightly transparent bump (nodular BCC) that does not resolve, this kind of cancer usually, although not always, appears on sun-damaged skin of the head, neck, and trunk, and affects more than 4 million Americans each year over decades of ultraviolet (UV) exposure from the sun. BCC is not usually metastatic (spreading to other parts of the body) although if left untreated, can cause damage to surrounding and underlying structures.

The use of daily sunscreen and other sun-protective measures such as hats, long-sleeved clothing and sunglasses help to shelter the skin from UV radiation over-exposure.

A Team Effort

Dr. Karimi is very proud of his brave patient, “It was a very difficult journey, but Cailin was very resilient and I was so inspired by her strength.” He also expressed his gratitude on social media to the entire team of people who helped Cailin to recovery.

“What wasn’t mentioned during “The Doctors” TV segment and what I would like to highlight here is the amazing job that all of my staff and ancillary providers did to help cure Cailin and to help rebuild her face and her life.

I want to thank all of our front office schedulers, back office medical assistants, nurses, and operating room staff who helped make this possible. I want to thank the Radiation Oncology team at Providence Saint John’s Hospital for their amazing care and expert delivery of post-operative radiation.

I also want to thank my team at Rejuva Medical Aesthetics who helped Cailin with management of her scar with laser and platelet-rich fibrin therapy. Although the television segment does not mention all of these people and support staff, Cailin’s incredible cure and results would not have been possible without them. I am thankful for my amazing team and support that enables me to do what I do every single day.”

Cailin looks back at her experience and says, “That was a very dark and traumatic period of my life. Dr. Karimi saw me at my worst and here I am at my best.”

Skin cancer can happen to anyone, which makes it important to look out for symptoms such as sores or pimples that do not heal or worsen over time. Cailin’s story offers a lot to learn from.

For more information about nasal & facial skin cancer repair, and to make an appointment with Dr. Karimi, please call 310-477-5558 or visit


Zara Jethani

Zara Jethani, MS, MBA, is the marketing and communications director for Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Her background is in graphic design, molecular genetics research and healthcare marketing. 

About the Author

Zara Jethani, MS, MBA

Zara Jethani

Zara is the marketing director at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Her background is in molecular genetics research and healthcare marketing. In addition, she is a graphic designer with more than 20 years experience in the healthcare, education and entertainment industries.

Last updated: September 11th, 2020