Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a safe and effective treatment for skin cancer that thoroughly excises the tumor while only mildly disturbing surrounding tissue. It is the only skin cancer treatment available that targets only cancerous tissue through comprehensive microscopic examination of the affected area.
Advantages of Mohs Surgery
Designed by Frederic E. Mohs, M.D. in the 1930s, Mohs Surgery excises not only the visible tumor but also any "roots" that may have extended beneath the surface of the skin. Five-year cure rates have been demonstrated up to 99 percent for first-treatment cancers and 95 percent for recurring cancers.
This procedure is most commonly used for the treatment of basal and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common types of skin cancer, although it can also be used to treat melanoma and other types of cancer. Mohs surgery is often recommended for recurring cancer because its results are so thorough. It is also ideal for treating cancer in cosmetically and functionally prominent areas such as the nose, eyelids, lips, hairline, hands, feet and genitals.
Mohs Surgery Preparation
You are able to eat breakfast and lunch as well as snacks on the day of surgery unless otherwise instructed. Please take all of your normal medications unless the doctor has advised you otherwise.
Mohs Surgery Procedure
Dr. Whitaker, a highly trained Mohs surgeon, performs the skin cancer surgery as an outpatient procedure in the office. The office is equipped with an on-site state certified laboratory for microscopic examination of the tissue. Typically, surgery starts in the morning and is completed the same day, depending on the extent of the tumor and the amount of reconstruction necessary.
During the Mohs surgery procedure, the affected area is numbed with a local anesthetic. You are completely numb in the area of the surgery, so the procedure is comfortable. After the area has been numbed, Dr. Whitaker removes the visible tumor along with a thin layer of surrounding tissue. A technician then prepares this tissue and puts it on a slide for examination under a microscope. If there is evidence of cancer Dr. Whitaker will take more tissue from the area the cancer was detected. This ensures minimizing loss of healthy tissue. This will be repeated until you are free of cancer.
When your surgery is complete Dr, Whitaker will access the wound and discuss options for ideal function and cosmetic reconstruction. He understands that a good cosmetic result is an important part of the recovery process. If reconstruction is necessary,he will generally repair the area the same day as the surgery
Patients should arrange for someone to take them home following surgery.
Recovery and Results from Mohs Surgery
Because Dr. Whitaker performs the procedure in an outpatient setting using only local anesthesia, immediate recovery generally involves little more than resting and simple would care. After Mohs surgery, patients may experience mild discomfort, bruising and swelling around the treated area, but these are typically temporary and easily manageable. Prescription pain medication is available for patients if needed
Risks of Mohs Surgery
Although Mohs surgery is considered safe for most patients, there are certain risks involved with any type of surgical procedure. Some of these risks may include numbness, muscle weakness, tenderness, itching, pain and failure of skin grafts. These risks are considered rare and, if they do occur, are usually mild and temporary. Patients can reduce the risk of complications by choosing an experienced Mohs surgeon to perform their treatment, and by following the surgeon's instructions after the procedure.
For more information, visit the American College of Mohs Surgery at mohscollege.org.