Mohs Surgery is a life-changing area of expertise for our physicians. Learn more.
Mohs surgery is a life-altering surgery that most people aren’t familiar with until they need it. It is considered the gold standard in skin cancer treatment and has been practiced and advanced upon since the 1930s! However, it’s incredibly important to understand this procedure and ensure you’re seeing a true expert should you or someone you love ever need it. Our board-certified providers, Dr. Munavalli and Dr. Om, have dedicated their careers to providing the best Mohs surgery and treatment possible. Read below to learn more!
The Basics of Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery (also called micrographic surgery) is the most advanced skin cancer treatment available, in part because it is incredibly precise and helps preserve healthy tissues, while also effectively eradicating cancerous cells. During Mohs procedures, the surgeon removes the visible portion of the tumor; this portion of skin is then analyzed by the surgeon under a microscope for evidence of residual cancer. The surgeon will continue to remove small layers of skin, targeting specific areas where cancer cells remain, until no more cancerous cells are detected. Because the procedure is performed using a microscope and stepwise sections, healthy tissue margins are left intact. The wound is then reconstructed to appear as normal, using a simple linear closure or, in advanced cases, a skin flap or skin graft.
In simpler terms, the doctor removes skin cancer layer-by-layer as they evaluate the tissue in between each layer. They then inspect the skin under a high-powered microscope until no cancerous tissue remains at the site. The entire surgery is performed using only local, injectible anesthesia and patients remain awake and alert, avoiding the risks that would accompany general anesthesia.
The best candidates for Mohs surgery are those with visible skin cancers in areas with delicate or thin skin, like the face, fingers, toes, and genitals. More advanced melanomas that are deeper into the skin are generally not great candidates.
The Advantages are Abundant
Mohs also has an incredibly high cure rate: 94-99% for common forms of skin cancer.
It is minimally invasive, low-risk, and accomplished in one day. Traditional surgical procedures can take several days for biopsy results to come in and, occasionally, patients have to undergo multiple surgeries if not all cancerous tissue was removed during the first surgery. The single outpatient Mohs approach is also more cost-effective for many patients since it is covered by most insurance plans, the results are precise and there are very low recurrence rates!
Mohs is used to treat many types of skin cancer–mostly basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and some malignant melanoma, but can also be used to treat other types of skin cancer. It is often the best treatment option for skin cancers in high-risk areas and works beautifully on areas of the body where sparing tissue loss is important, such as around or on the face.
In fact: about 80% of skin cancer lesions are on the head or neck due to increased sun exposure.
Recovery is Quick
Recovery from Mohs surgery is quick and convenient. Most patients are back at work within a few days of their procedure. The main consideration is a pressure bandage for about two days following the surgery, and we often advise patients to take it easy for about a week, depending on the size and location of the tissue removal. Avoiding high blood pressure activities for a week in order to optimize healing is key!
Our patients often ask about scarring from the procedure, and we’re pleased to tell them that Mohs allows for the best cosmetic outcome because the least amount of healthy tissue is removed which leaves patients with smaller, more manageable wounds. A small scar is expected, though it will be smaller than a scar left from traditional surgery.
If you have any questions or would like to have a board-certified dermatologist weigh in on your skin concerns directly, call anytime to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to help you be your healthiest self!