What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery (also called Mohs micrographic surgery) is a skin cancer treatment that removes cancerous tissue in stages. The procedure is designed to remove all cancer cells while protecting surrounding healthy tissue and minimizing scarring.
We may use Mohs surgery to treat certain skin cancers in areas where it is essential to conserve tissue, including the:
- Head or face
- Ears, eyelids, nose and lips
- Neck area
Why choose us for Mohs surgery?
Highlights of our program include:
- Specialized training: Our team includes a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon. This in-depth training requires doctors to complete a dermatology residency program in addition to intensive pathology and surgical instruction, leading to precise care.
- Advanced reconstructive surgery options: In some cases, people with skin cancer may also need head and neck reconstructive surgery. Our experienced reconstructive surgeons work closely with our Mohs surgeon to repair the look or function of certain face, neck or scalp tissues after cancer treatment.
- Expertise in rare cancers: We perform Mohs surgery to treat the two most common cancers: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Our experienced surgical team also considers this advanced treatment option for rare skin cancers, including dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans and Merkel cell carcinoma.
- Comfort and convenience: You can receive a full spectrum of dermatology services before, during and after your surgery in one location at Mays Cancer Center. We help keep you as comfortable as possible throughout your procedure.
Mohs surgery: What to expect
We perform Mohs surgery as an outpatient procedure in a dermatology surgical suite at Mays Cancer Center.
During the procedure:
- We numb the affected area using local anesthetic to keep you comfortable.
- The surgeon removes a thin layer of mostly cancerous cells. Mohs surgery removes only a small fraction of surrounding healthy tissue.
- While you wait, the on-site Mohs laboratory prepares your tissue. The surgeon then analyzes the tissue cells under a microscope, reviewing 100% of the margin to detect if any cancerous cells remain.
- The surgeon repeats the process as necessary, removing additional layers of tissue until no cancer cells remain.
- The surgeon closes and repairs the area, often with sutures.
You should expect to spend most of the day with us. However, you do not undergo surgery the entire time. Mohs surgery may involve several waiting periods throughout the day, during which microscope slides of your cancer are prepared and analyzed by the surgeon pathologist (Mohs surgeon). Our care team is on hand to keep you comfortable.
Before you go home, we’ll give you specific instructions to help you heal and plan your follow-up care. We also provide research-backed tips for how you can minimize scarring.
How to talk to your doctor about Mohs surgery
Your care team will consider many factors (such as a skin cancer’s type, size and location) when deciding whether Mohs surgery may benefit you.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend additional therapies, such as a topical cream or advanced targeted therapies that destroy cancer cells.
Our team will sit down with you to go over all your treatment options, including what this surgery entails. We make sure to answer any questions you may have.
Bring along a trusted family member or friend to your care appointments if you wish. On the day of your procedure, you will need to bring along someone able to drive you home after surgery. This person can also help you remember key treatment details and support you in making care decisions.