What is mohs surgery?

Mohs Surgery

How well does Mohs surgery for skin cancer work?

Mohs surgery can be an effective treatment for skin cancer. This technique preserves as much nearby healthy skin as possible. It works well for both squamous cell skin cancer and basal cell skin cancer to spare healthy tissue and prevent the cancer from coming back.

How long does Mohs surgery for skin cancer take?

The procedure may take a few hours or could take a full day.

What are the risks of Mohs surgery for skin cancer?

Risks of surgery include:

  • Infection of the wound.
  • Scarring.
  • Discomfort or pain.
  • Bleeding.
  • The skin cancer coming back.

What is Mohs surgery for skin cancer?

Mohs surgery removes a skin cancer one layer at a time. The doctor checks each layer for cancer cells until no more cancer is found.

This method lets the doctor save as much healthy tissue as possible.

This surgery is mostly used for areas of skin you can see or where scarring is a bigger concern, such as on the ears, nose, or eyelids.

It is also used for skin cancer that is likely to return, is growing fast, or has a high risk of spreading.

What can you expect as you recover from Mohs surgery for skin cancer?

You will have a scar that fades with time. If your wound is large, your doctor may need to take a thin sheet of healthy skin (skin graft) from another part of your body. This skin graft can be used to cover the area where the cancer was removed. The doctor will try to use healthy skin from an area that is usually covered by clothes or is not easily seen.

You should be able to return to your normal routine on the same day or the day after the surgery. But your doctor may ask you to limit activity until your follow-up appointment in 1 to 2 weeks. Some soreness, swelling, or bruising is normal.

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medicines to help with pain. Most wounds take 1 to 3 weeks to heal.

You may have stitches that will be removed in a week or two. If you have the type of stitches that dissolve, they don't have to be removed. They will disappear on their own.

How is Mohs surgery for skin cancer done?

You will be awake during the surgery. Your doctor will give you medicine to numb the area so you won't feel pain. When the skin is numb, your doctor will start to remove the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue, one layer of skin at a time.

Each layer of tissue is checked right away under a microscope. If cancer is found, another layer is removed and checked. Layers are removed until no more cancer is found.

Why is Mohs surgery for skin cancer done?

Mohs surgery may be used for removal of skin cancer that:

  • Is likely to return. Mohs surgery works well for getting cancer-free margins for cancers that have irregular borders and a history of removal and recurrence.
  • Is located in visible areas or areas where skin tissue should be preserved, such as on the ears, nose, or eyelids.
  • Is growing quickly.
  • Has a high risk of spreading to other parts of the body, such as in some squamous cell carcinomas.
  • Occurs in children.

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