Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, treats specific types of skin cancer and is recommended for patients who meet certain criteria. During the procedure, thin layers of skin that contain cancer cells are removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. At Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta, located in Alpharetta, Georgia, we have specialized in this type of surgery for years.
What Is Mohs Surgery? 6 Things to Know
It’s More Popular Than Ever
This procedure has become more common than standard, local excision surgeries because surgeons are able to confirm in real-time whether or not they have removed all the cancer cells. This reduces the need for additional surgery or further treatments.
Why People Have Mohs Surgery
Patients undergo this procedure to remove the cancer cells while doing as little damage as possible to the surrounding healthy skin. It’s used to treat the most common skin cancers like squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, as well as some types of melanoma.
This surgery is particularly suitable against skin cancers that have high risks of reoccurring or have reoccurred after previous treatment. This procedure is also effective when the cancer is located in areas where you want to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible, such as on the face, hands, feet, and genitals.
How You Should Get Ready for Mohs Surgery
There are several things your surgeon may recommend you do before the day of surgery. For example, make sure your surgeon knows all medications you are taking prior to the procedure. They may instruct you to stop taking certain blood-thinning medications or supplements as these can increase the chances of post-surgery bleeding.
They will likely ask you to clear your schedule for the day. Even though it is an outpatient procedure that normally takes about four hours, there are many factors that could come up that would extend your stay. You do not want to be rushed or nervous about having to be somewhere else.
It is also recommended that you wear comfortable clothing and bring something like a tablet, magazine, or book to help pass the time in case there are any unforeseen delays.
What You Should Expect During the Procedure
Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure that is done in an operating room. There will usually be a laboratory nearby where the surgeon can immediately examine the removed tissue. In most cases, the procedure lasts about four hours. Since it can be difficult, however, to tell how extensive a skin tumor is just by looking at the surface, it might take longer than that. That is why doctors often advise reserving the whole day for the procedure.
Unless the location of the tumor requires it, you probably won’t have to change into a surgical gown. Once they are ready to operate, the nurse cleans and sanitizes the area to be operated on and outlines it with a special pen. The anesthesiologist then injects the area with a local anesthetic so you don’t have to worry about feeling any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
Next, the surgeon uses a scalpel to remove the visible portion of the tumor along with a little bit of the underlying healthy tissue. A temporary bandage is placed on the incision. The surgeon then takes it to the laboratory for analysis. All of this should only take a few minutes.
The expected wait time for results is usually about an hour. You will be able to wait in the waiting room, use the bathroom, and have a drink or snack during this time. Once the analysis is complete, and if cancer still remains, the surgeon will repeat the procedure and remove additional layers of skin. This process will repeat until the last tissue sample that is removed is cancer-free.
What You Should Expect After
Once all of the cancer cells are removed, you can discuss with your surgeon how you want the wound to heal. Depending on the severity, this could include:
- Letting it heal on its own
- Using stitches
- Shifting skin from a nearby area
- Using a skin graft from another part of the body
If the surgical area is very extensive or complex, they might temporarily close your wound and refer you to another surgeon that specializes in reconstructive or plastic surgery to repair the wound.
Results and Follow Up
The results are immediate and given to you while you wait after the surgery. Your surgeon may want to schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your recovery and ensure the wound is properly healing.
Even though this procedure has a high rate of curing skin cancer, people who have been diagnosed with skin cancer do have an increased risk of developing skin cancer again, compared with people who have never had skin cancer. Therefore, you should make a plan to undergo regular follow-ups with your primary care doctor or a dermatologist at least once a year to spot any new signs of skin cancer.
Is Mohs Surgery Right for You?
This procedure is easy and effective in treating most forms of skin cancer. The whole process does not take much time, the results are immediate, and it allows you to get back to your normal routine right away. Thousands of people around the world have successfully had this surgery to address their skin cancer—it could be exactly what you’ve been looking for!
Want to learn more about Mohs surgery and see if it’s right for you? Contact Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia, for a free consultation today!