Eliminate Skin Cancer with Mohs Surgery

Overview

Published: 12/12/2011

Photos

Also referred to as micrographic surgery, Mohs surgery is a precise technique for removing certain types of skin cancer. During Mohs, surgeons progressively remove layers of cancer-harboring skin and carefully examine each one under a microscope until the remaining tissue is left cancer-free. When performed by experienced plastic surgeons, Mohs offers maximum cancer removal with minimum damage to healthy tissue.

 



Mohs micrographic surgery is typically used to treat common skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma; however, it may also be used to treat melanoma and other atypical forms of skin cancer. Mohs is especially useful when treating skin cancers that are aggressive, have a high risk of recurrence, and are located in certain areas where tissue preservation is desired, such as the nose, eyes, mouth, hands, feet, genitals and hairline.



The Procedure and Potential Risks

 



Mohs surgery is usually performed at a surgeon's office on an outpatient basis, with each procedure usually lasting approximately four hours. Once the skin is cleaned, the surgeon injects a local anesthetic to numb the area. Once the anesthetic takes effect, the surgeon removes a very thin layer of tissue using a scalpel. The surgeon then moves the tissue to a laboratory, where he or she analyzes it. The process is repeated until the final tissue sample appears cancer free.

 



As with most any surgery, Mohs carries some risk, including pain, bleeding, scarring, infection, and numbness or tenderness around the surgical site. Surgeons sometimes recommend certain pain relievers to help manage post-operative discomfort. Infections are rare, and most are easily treated with antibiotics.