What is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. Mohs surgery is also known as Mohs micrographic surgery.
We will determine if Mohs surgery is appropriate for treating your skin cancer, depending on the type of skin cancer you have and it’s location.
Mohs surgery is the only treatment method that allows the evaluation of skin cancer cells during the procedure, which results in the highest cure rate possible while removing the least amount of normal tissue. For certain cases of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma – the most common types of skin cancer – the cure rate can be as high as 99%.
During Mohs surgery, most patients remain awake and alert. This means Mohs can safely be performed in a medical office or surgical suite. Only if extensive surgery is necessary would you be admitted to a hospital.
On the day of the surgery, your surgeon will first examine the area to be treated. You’ll then be prepped for surgery. This includes giving you an injection of anesthetic. This injection only numbs the area that will be operated on, so you’ll be awake during the surgery.
Once the anesthetic takes effect, the surgery can begin. The surgeon starts by first cutting out the visible skin cancer. Next, the surgeon removes a thin layer of surrounding skin. You’re then bandaged so that you can wait comfortably.
While you wait, the Mohs surgeon looks at the removed skin under a microscope. The surgeon is looking for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, you’ll need another layer of skin removed.
This process of removing a thin layer of skin and looking at it under a microscope continues until the surgeon no longer sees cancer cells.
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.
If you need wound treatment, your Mohs surgeon may treat the wound that same day. Some patients with a large wound are referred to another surgeon for wound treatment.
Can Mohs treat melanoma?
Yes, dermatologists occasionally recommend Mohs for treating melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Mohs is only used to treat an early melanoma, and it must be a type of melanoma called lentigo malignant melanoma. This type of melanoma stays close to the surface of the skin for a while.