Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a surgical procedure for the removal of skin cancer. Mohs surgery is a highly precise and most effective method that removes the visible tumor and any “roots” that may have extended beneath the skin surface. It also results in the best cosmetic outcome because it removes less "normal" skin than other procedures. It does not require general anesthesia and is also usually completed in one day which results in a safer, more convenient, and less expensive procedure for the patient.
Mohs surgery is most commonly used for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Cancers that have recurred are often treated with Mohs surgery because the precision of this procedure is ideal for the elimination of cancers in cosmetically and functionally critical areas such as on the head, neck, hands, and feet.
Why is Mohs Surgery So Effective?
Mohs surgery allows the specially trained doctor to see the surface and the "roots" of the skin cancer. This is important because skin cancer is much like a plant in that what you see on the surface can be just the tip. What can't be seen by the naked eye are the "roots" of the skin cancer and it is these "roots" that must be removed to be sure that the cancer will not grow back in the same spot. Mohs is the only procedure that allows the doctor to see and remove the "roots" as well as the surface of the skin cancer, which is why Mohs patients enjoy the highest cure rate of any skin cancer treatment.
What Will Happen During My Mohs Surgery?
- Dr. Anderson will first outline the skin cancer to be removed. You will then be given a local anesthetic to numb the surgical area.
- The first layer of cancerous skin along with a very small amount of "normal" skin surrounding the cancer will then be removed. That tissue will be prepared and placed on a microscope slide so that Dr. Anderson can ensure that all the cancer has been removed, or "cleared". This is called "Stage 1." If all of the cancer has not been removed during this first stage, a second or third stage is required.
- Between stages, you will be seated in the Reception Area and then called back into the surgery room as required. Due to the processing and interpretation of removed tissue, each stage takes approximately 45 minutes and, on average, patients require 2 stages before their cancer is cleared.
- When you are cleared of the skin cancer, Dr. Anderson will repair the wound using one of several techniques, depending on the size and location of the surgical wound, your skin type, etc.
- Once your surgical wound has been repaired and bandaged, you will be given an appointment time to return for removal of the sutures. While any surgery results in some scarring, most patients are very pleased with the positive cosmetic results of Mohs surgery.