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Mohs Surgery

Q:What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is a highly specialized procedure for the removal of skin cancers. There are three separate steps to this technique: (1) curettage (scraping away of the tissue) of the visible part of the skin cancer, (2) surgical removal (excision) of the tissue to a certain depth, and (3) examination of the excised tissue under the microscope. This process enables us to pinpoint the exact location of any remaining cancer. If more cancer is found, the procedure is repeated in the area of the remaining cancer.

Q:How Long Does the Procedure Take?

Each curettage and excision takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The microscopic examination of the tissue by the pathologist takes about an hour. During this time, you are able to sit and read or talk to family members. Total removal of the cancer, which may involve several surgical sessions, is usually completed in one day.

Q:How Effective is Mohs Surgery in the Treatment of Skin Cancer?

The success rate with Mohs surgery is very high, often 97 to 99%, even when other forms of treatment have failed.

Q:What are the Advantages of this Procedure?

Using microscopic examination, the surgeon can pinpoint the areas involving cancer and selectively remove only the cancerous tissue. In this way, the skin cancer is traced to its roots. This results in the removal of as little normal tissue as possible and a higher chance of cure.

Q:How is the Wound Treated After the Removal of the Cancer?

We usually opt to close the wound in a simple fashion which affords the best cosmetic result. For complicated reconstructions, a graft of skin may be needed. In some cases, the wound may be closed with just stitches, or simply allowed to heal on its own. We will provide the treatment best suited for your individual case.

Q:Will I Have Any Scarring?

As with any surgery, there will be a scar. However, this technique tends to minimize scarring as much as possible.

Q:Where is the Surgery Performed?

The surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure in our surgical suite.

Q:Is the Surgery Painful?

You will be anesthetized with a local anesthetic to numb the skin around the skin cancer. You should not feel any pain during the surgery. Intravenous sedation is available upon request after consultation with the doctor. A pain reliever will be prescribed if necessary to relieve any discomfort you may have after you leave the office.

Q:Is this Surgery Covered by Insurance?

Most health insurance plans, including Medicare, cover most of the cost of Mohs surgery. Some insurance policies cover the total cost. Each policy is different. Please check with our insurance office if you have any questions regarding costs and insurance forms.

Q:Are There Any Complications Associated with Mohs Surgery?

There are complications possible with Mohs surgery. As with any surgery, there is the possibility of swelling, bleeding, bruising, and or infection. Itching and redness may occur during the healing process, but will subside. Recurrence of the skin cancer is also a possibility, therefore, close follow-up is essential. The area should be checked by the doctor at least three times per year.

Q:About Follow-up Visits?

If you have been diagnosed as having skin cancer, you are at a higher risk of recurrence or of developing new cancers in other areas. It is your responsibility to return every three to four months for a re-check. For this reason, you will automatically be registered in our skin cancer follow-up program, which includes regularly scheduled follow-up visits. When you receive the reminder in the mail, please call our office at your earliest convenience to schedule an appointment.