What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains.
The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove as much of the skin cancer as possible, while doing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Mohs surgery is an improvement to standard excisional surgery, which involves removing the visible cancer and a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue all at once. Mohs surgery allows for verification that all cancer cells have been removed at the time of the procedure. This maximizes the chance of a cure and reduces the need for additional surgery.
What can you expect during your Mohs procedure?
Mohs surgery is performed in the comfort of our office. In most cases, the procedure lasts around two to four hours. However, it can be difficult to tell how extensive a skin cancer is just by looking at its surface, so you should plan to have your day whole day available if required.
During the Mohs procedure, the area of skin will first be properly numbed, so you will not feel any discomfort during the procedure. Once ready, Dr. Young will remove the visible portion of the cancer along with a thin, underlying layer of tissue that's slightly larger than the visible tumor. A temporary bandage is then placed on your incision.
The tissue is then taken to the laboratory to get prepared and then analyzed for any remaining skin cancer cells. This portion of the Mohs procedure typically takes the longest amount of time. While this process is taking place, you can comfortably relax in our waiting room, so it may help to bring a book or magazine to pass the time. You'll be able to use the restroom and have a snack, if you need to, but you won't be able to leave our office until the procedure is complete.
After Dr. Young reviews the tissue, if cancer remains, he will remove an additional layer of tissue from the affected area, taking care to remove tissue that contains cancer while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible intact. Again, you'll wait while Dr. Young examines the tissue. This process is repeated until the last tissue sample removed is cancer-free. After all of the skin cancer has been removed, Dr. Young will close the wound with stitches.
Are there any advantages to having a Mohs procedure?
One of the advantages of a Mohs surgical procedure is that you know your results right away and you usually don't leave your appointment until all of the skin cancer has been removed, which helps provide peace of mind to you. Although Mohs has an extremely high rate of cure for skin cancer, you will always have a small risk of cancer recurrence or of developing another skin cancer, so it is important to continue to get your regular skin cancer screenings.
If you have any questions about treating your skin cancer with Mohs or would like to schedule an appointment to have the Mohs procedure performed, please call our office and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.