Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a safe and effective treatment for skin cancer that thoroughly excises the tumor while only mildly disturbing surrounding tissue. It is the only skin cancer treatment available that targets cancerous tissue through comprehensive microscopic examination of the affected area.
Designed by Frederic E. Mohs, M.D., in the 1930s, Mohs Surgery excises not only the visible tumor but also any "roots" that may have extended beneath the surface of the skin. Five-year cure rates have been demonstrated up to 99 percent for first-treatment cancers and 95 percent for recurring cancers.
This procedure is most commonly used for the treatment of basal and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common types of skin cancer, although it can also be used to treat other types of skin cancer. Mohs surgery is often recommended for recurring cancer because its results are so thorough. It is also ideal for treating cancer in cosmetically and functionally prominent areas such as the nose, eyelids, lips, hairline, hands, feet and genitals.
your Mohs Surgery day
On your day of surgery, please check in at our front desk at your scheduled time. We will escort you to one of our procedure rooms and help you get comfortable. You will receive injectable anesthesia to numb the surgical site, just like when your dermatologist performed the biopsy. You will not be "put to sleep." The surgeon will then remove the obvious cancer plus a 1-2mm margin of normal tissue. The removal typically takes 15 minutes, and then a bandage is applied. The analysis of the tissue requires 1-2 hours. During this time, you can relax in our waiting area. Please bring a book, computer, etc. to occupy your time. If skin cancer is detected in the tissue margins, you will be escorted back into the procedure area and the process is repeated until all of the skin cancer is removed. Once the skin cancer is completely removed the reconstructive surgery is performed (typically the same day).
Most Mohs procedures can be performed in three or less stages, which usually takes four hours to perform. Some cases may take longer, as there is no way of predicting the extent of cancer growth before treatment begins. Patients should arrange for someone to take them home following surgery.
The best method of reconstructing the wound resulting from surgery is determined after the cancer is completely removed. Once the final defect is known, management is individualized to achieve the best results and to preserve functional capabilities and maximize aesthetics. A small wound may be allowed to heal on its own, or the wound may be closed with sutures, a skin graft or a flap. On some occasions another surgical specialist may complete the reconstruction as part of a team approach.
recovery from Mohs Surgery
After Mohs surgery, patients may experience mild discomfort, bruising and swelling around the treated area. Typically Tylenol is sufficient for pain relief. Sutures are usually removed in 1-2 weeks. The body naturally heals by forming a scar after surgery, a process that takes up to six months to complete. Patients are generally very satisfied with the cosmetic appearance of their scar following reconstruction, especially since they know that they are skin cancer free!
Risks of Mohs Surgery
Although Mohs surgery is considered safe for most patients, there are certain risks involved with any type of surgical procedure. Some of these risks may include numbness, muscle weakness, tenderness, itching, pain and failure of skin grafts. These risks are considered rare and, if they do occur, are usually mild and temporary.