What is Mohs Surgery?

What is Mohs Surgery? Mar 9, 2021 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team

What is the most effective technique for treating common skin cancers? Mohs Surgery. Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery (pronounced Moes), is a specialized surgical procedure and is considered the most successful method for treating non-melanoma skin cancers. This technique was developed by Frederic E. Mohs, MD in the 1930s. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that Perry Robins, MD studied the procedure and recognized its potential for the field of dermatology. Eventually, the technique was introduced into training programs to teach dermatologists this highly efficient and effective method. 

What to Expect During Mohs Surgery

The Mohs surgery procedure is done in several stages, all in one visit to the doctor. Here is what you can expect:
  1. Examination - It starts with the surgeon examining the spot where you had your biopsy. He or she will likely mark it with a pen for reference and then position you for the best access, such as sitting up or lying down. A surgical drape will be placed over the surgical site, and a local anesthetic will be administered to completely numb the area while you remain awake. 
  2. Top Layer Removal - Using certain surgical techniques, a visible portion of the tumor and a thin layer of surrounding skin will be removed. A dressing will be used to cover the cut or incision so you can wait comfortably.
  3. Lab Analysis - In a laboratory, the surgeon will use a microscope to examine the tissue sample. This is to find out if there are still any cancer cells left underneath or around its edges. If so, the surgeon will have to remove another deep layer of the tissue for analysis, but this is only taken from exactly where the cancer cells originated.
  4. Second Layer Removal - The removal process will continue until there are no longer any cancer cells left in the area while preserving the maximum amount of surrounding healthy tissue.
  5. Wound Repair - Once the cancerous cells have been successfully eliminated, the excision will be closed either by letting it heal on its own or using surgery, like a primary closure, skin flap, or skin graft. For extensive wounds, your doctor may recommend consulting a plastic surgeon for reconstruction.

Advantages of Mohs Surgery

There are advantages to choosing Mohs Surgery, such as:
  1. Cost-Effective Treatment - This technique is efficient and cost-effective because it can be done in one visit to the doctor. In addition, it will use local anesthesia, and lab work can be completed on-site. 
  2. Precise Results - The Mohs surgeon can examine 100% of the tumor margins, which means it can spare the healthy tissues and leave the smallest scar possible. 
  3. High Cure Rate - Mohs surgery has up to a 99% cure rate for skin cancer that has not been treated before, and up to 94% cure rate for recurring skin cancer. 

When is Mohs Surgery Recommended? 

Mohs surgery is considered to be the best method for removing basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), the two most common types of skin cancer. This procedure can be done in an area with little tissue beneath like around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, scalp, fingers, or toes. Additionally, this method is recommended for aggressive, large, or rapidly growing cases of BBCs or SCCs. Occasionally, Mohs (or a modified type of Mohs surgery) is used to treat an early-stage melanoma that has remained close to the surface of the skin. Typically this procedure will take longer to receive the results, so the patient may get bandaged up and come back the next day.

We’re Here For You

At Complete Family Dermatology in Lincoln, NE, Dr. Geoff Basler, MD and Brent Behrens, PA-C take every measure to ensure that the skin cancer treatment administered is effective and that the patient care is compassionate. To see if Mohs surgery is an option for you or a loved one, contact our office today at 402-423-1111.    

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