Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, is a procedure used to treat skin cancer. It is an established and proven technique that was first developed by Dr. Frederick Mohs in the 1930s. Dr. Mohs first used a “chemo-paste” to harden the cancerous tissue. He then removed the cancer in “layers” until all the cancer was removed. Major breakthroughs were made when Mohs surgeons began using frozen sections instead of the chemopaste. This allowed for faster processing of tissue and minimal damage to healthy surrounding skin. As a result of these advances, Mohs surgery is the single most effective technique for removing most skin cancers. Its value often lies in its ability to achieve this high cure rate while sparing surrounding tissue. For this reason, Mohs surgery is most commonly used to remove skin cancer from sensitive areas of the body such as the face, neck, hands or feet.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthetic. This means that patients do not have to go to the hospital to have their cancer removed and do not have to be put to sleep. Instead, procedures are performed in the doctor’s office with gentle numbing with a local anesthetic such as lidocaine. At Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta, these procedures are performed by board certified dermatologist and fellowship trained Mohs surgeon Dr. Brent Taylor.
Mohs surgery is a precise and thorough technique based on preparing tissue so that the entire “margin” or edge of the tissue can be examined. During Mohs surgery, Dr. Taylor surgically removes the cancerous growth, along with a small underlying and surrounding layer of seemingly healthy tissue. He will then bandage the incision and take the sample to the lab to study it.
While the patient waits, Dr. Taylor cuts the tissue sample into thin sections and examines them under a microscope. He keeps careful track of the exact origin of each sample. This way, if Dr. Taylor finds additional cancer cells in one section, but not in any of the others, he will know exactly where to continue operating.
If Dr. Taylor finds cancer at an edge, he returns to the patient and continues to remove more tissue from the affected area and analyzes it carefully. This process of gathering and analyzing tissue will be repeated until all of the samples come back from the lab cancer-free.
When is Mohs Surgery Used?
Mohs surgery is the most effective treatment for the two most common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and is also the most effective treatment for a growing list of less common skin cancers. Mohs surgery has a cure rate of a staggering 98-99 percent for basal and squamous cell carcinoma.
Treating melanoma with Mohs surgery requires additional laboratory agents and expertise. At Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta, Dr. Taylor is proud to offer Mohs surgery for melanoma and has the protocols and the highly trained staff necessary to process melanomas on site in his laboratory.
Mohs surgery is particularly useful for treating areas around the eyes, nose, lips and ears, other areas of the head and neck, hands, feet and other areas where the patient and surgeon want to preserve as much tissue as possible. Mohs surgery is sometimes also called “tissue-sparing surgery,” because the surgeon removes less tissue than is necessary to clear cancer when using conventional excisions.
Are you interested in exploring Mohs surgery as a treatment option? Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta is proud to provide this and many other treatments customized to patients’ needs. Our practice is located in Alpharetta, Georgia convenient to Milton, Crabapple, Atlanta, Cumming, Roswell, and Johns Creek and the greater north Georgia area. Contact us today for more information about our practice or to schedule a consultation appointment to see if Mohs surgery is right for you.