I did just that on my mid-2010 MacBook Pro about a month ago and sadly will have to do it to my wife's Early-2011 one next week. I was cleaning all the crap off her keyboard and apparently nuked the K and 0 keys on her keyboard. Probably my ply challenge was aligning the keyboard illuminator. It's still not aligned properly on mine so some keys are better lit than others, but otherwise it was a relatively easy fix and far cheaper than replacing the entire upper case.
I'm thinking you'd probably be OK losing the DVD drive without a problem. Just make sure the optical drive cable is secured or you might hear it rattling in there from time-to-time.
I was able to successfully complete this guide and go all the way back putting the machine back together with a new LCD from iFixIt. Unfortunately the LCD was DOA. I tried the old broken LCD (it was cracked, but showed some graphics, so I know it worked as it should). Because the repair job was a rush job, I had to get a new LCD from elsewhere and completed it the first time. Needless to say, doing this guide 6 times I learned a lot about this little guy. Bad LCD purchase, but I think I'd still buy from iFixIt again--we just had bad luck with one part here.