BACKGROUND: Congenital melanocytic nevi (CMN) have a 1% to 5% lifetime risk for malignant transformation, with 50% of transformations occurring before the age of 5 years.The aim of this study is to assess the risk of melanoma development in pediatric patients with facial CMN involving the eyebrows, eyelid margins, and nasal alae where a margin of CMN was not excised to preserve these structures. METHODS: A retrospective chart review of all pediatric patients with CMN from 1986 to 2014 was performed to review demographic information, diagnosis, and number of surgeries. Patients' clinical photographs were evaluated for residual nevi after completion of the treatment. RESULTS: More than 950 medical charts of patients with CMN of the face area were reviewed. We identified 32 patients (13; 41% male) that met the study criteria with pathology-confirmed diagnosis of facial CMN with an average age of 4.4 years (3.3 months-15.8 years) at the time of initial surgery. The CMNs were classified into small (1; 3%), medium (14; 44%), large (14; 44%), and giant (3; 9%) based on their projected adult sizes. No patients developed melanoma within the small residual lesions left over the eyebrows and eyelids and inside nostrils at an average follow-up time of 5.6 (1.0-14.4) years and average age of 9.6 (1.8-19.2) years at the time of last follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Although a lifelong risk of malignant transformation of the residual CMN cannot be concluded, our results found no transformation in follow-up visits at an average age beyond the highest risk of melanoma development in childhood. We feel that leaving residual lesions on the face in areas of important anatomic structures for better cosmetic outcome is an acceptable risk.
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