Mohs micrographic surgery is one of the most effective surgical techniques on the market for curing many common types of skin cancers. It utilizes a process in which thin layers of skin tissue are removed from a cancerous site and examined microscopically for cancer cells. Once cancerous areas are identified, another layer of skin is removed from the site, and the process repeats itself until all cancerous cells are gone. The procedure allows your surgeon to verify that all cancer cells have been removed, while also preserving as much healthy skin tissue as possible. Mohs surgery results in less scarring and less chance of cancer re-occurrence.
The Mohs Surgical Process
- Your surgeon will numb the area surrounding a skin cancer growth and use a scalpel to remove the visible tumor. A layer of skin tissue under the tumor will then be removed.
- While you wait, your surgeon will divide the tissue into segments, color-code each segment, and mark the skin where each segment came from to create a surgical map of the cancerous area.
- Your surgeon will analyze each tissue segment to determine if any cancerous cells remain. If there is remaining cancer, another layer of skin tissue will be removed from the segment of skin where cancer cells were seen.
- Your surgeon will repeat this process until all cancer cells are gone and only healthy tissue is left.
Who Qualifies for Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is effective for treating most basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, as well as certain types of melanomas and other skin cancers. Not all skin cancer types will be treatable with Mohs surgery; a consultation with your dermatologist will determine if you qualify to receive the procedure. Mohs surgery is most commonly recommended for people with the following:
- Skin cancers with a high risk for re-occurrence;
- A documented patient history of skin cancer re-occurrence;
- Skin cancer in a visible area, or where the tissue is thin and needs to be preserved, such as the hands, feet, genitals, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth;
- Areas of skin cancer with irregular or hard to define borders and edges; and
- Large and/or aggressive skin cancers.
What to Expect
- Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure and will take place over the course of one day. Depending on how many layers of skin tissue need to be removed, surgery could last anywhere from several hours to a full day. You will need to wait in the doctor’s office while the surgeon examines each layer of tissue.
- You will remain awake and alert throughout the entire process. A local anesthetic will be applied to the surgical area, and can be re-applied if the surgery lasts for several hours.
- You will not have to wait to hear test results – your surgeon will examine each tissue layer that is removed immediately, meaning you can leave your appointment feeling satisfied that all cancerous skin cells were removed.
Dr. K. Wade Foster is fellowship-trained in Mohs micrographic surgery. If you have an abnormal growth that may be skin cancer, call and make an appointment today with Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers to find out if Mohs surgery is a viable treatment option. Explore our website to read up on Dr. K. Wade Foster’s qualifications and experience, and to find the office location most convenient to you.