What is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, is a precise surgical technique used to treat the most common skin cancers, Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (BCCs and SCCs), as well as some kind of melanomas and other more unusual skin cancers.
During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. Cure rates for BCC and SCC are an unparalleled 98 percent or higher with Mohs, significantly better than the rates for standard excision or any other accepted method. Mohs surgery is especially useful for skin cancers that have a high risk of recurrence, are located in areas where you want to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible (around the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hairline, hands, and feet), or have borders that are hard to define.
If you have Mohs surgery, you’ll see our doctor who is a trained Mohs surgeon. Most Mohs surgeons are dermatologists who have completed extensive training in Mohs surgery.
During Mohs Surgery
During Mohs surgery, most patients remain awake and alert. Mohs surgery is done on an outpatient basis in an operating room or procedure room that has a nearby laboratory that allows the surgeon to examine the tissue after it is removed. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon uses a scalpel to remove the visible portion of the cancer along with a thin, underlying layer of tissue that is slightly larger than the visible tumor. A temporary bandage is placed on your incision. This takes only a few minutes. The surgeon then takes this tissue to the laboratory for analysis.
If cancer remains, you Mohs surgery will continue. Your surgeon removes an additional layer of tissue from the affected area, taking care to remove tissue that contains cancer while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible intact.
Once cancer cells are no longer seen, your surgeon will decide whether to treat your wound. Some wounds heal nicely without stitches. Others need stitches. To minimize the scar and help the area heal, some patients require a skin graft or other type of surgery.