Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, is a specialized technique for removing skin cancer. Named after its inventor, Dr. Frederic Mohs, Mohs surgery is the treatment of choice for many skin cancers. It offers the following advantages:
Watch a 9 minute video about the basics of skin cancer and the Mohs surgery process, produced by the American College of Mohs Surgery.
- Highest cure rate. Because all surgical margins are examined microscopically in the office, this procedure has the highest cure rate of all skin cancer treatments.
- Optimal cosmetic result. Because there is no need to take a margin of healthy skin in Mohs surgery, the size of the wound left after tumor removal is minimized. Keeping the defect small optimizes the surgical repair, and produces a superior cosmetic result.
Mohs surgery is as an outpatient procedure that is performed under local anesthesia. First, the portion of the tumor that is clearly visible is surgically removed. Then the tumor is processed by the laboratory that is located in our office. This processing takes about an hour. After processing, the physician uses a microscope to see if the entire tumor has been removed. If the margins are clear, and the tumor has been completely removed, then the surgeon will repair the wound that was created by tumor removal. The repair usually involves sutures.
If the margins are not clear, meaning that some of the tumor was left behind, then the surgeon will go back and remove the edges around the previous tumor. This will likewise be processed and examined with a microscope. If tumor removal is complete, then sutures will be used to repair the defect, if not, then another layer of skin will be taken. This process is repeated as many times as necessary until the entire tumor is removed.
Because the number of stages involved with each case is unpredictable, it is impossible to know how long the surgery will take. For this reason, it is important for patients to plan on spending the entire day with us. Bring a good book and whatever else will help keep you comfortable while you are with us.