Mohs skin cancer surgery has come to be accepted as the single most effective technique for removing basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common skin cancers. It accomplishes this by sparing the greatest amount of healthy tissue. Mohs surgery can sometimes be performed on certain types of melanomas, the most serious type of skin cancer.
The physician removes one very thin layer of tissue at a time, checking the tissue margins under a microscope for the presence of skin cancer cells. Once the margins are cleared of skin cancer cells in the last layer of tissue, the procedure has ended.
Mohs micrographic surgery is very precise, so it has the highest cure rate of all skin cancer treatments. It also results in a smaller scar than other skin cancer removal techniques.
This process allows more healthy tissue to be saved, which is less invasive for the patient and provides a better cosmetic outcome. Also, recovery times are less, and disfigurement is often avoided.
If considerable tissue must be taken in order to remove all skin cancer cells, some reconstruction of the area may be necessary. We can usually perform this reconstruction immediately after your Mohs surgery to help the area appear as normal as possible. In some cases, reconstruction involves skin grafts – taking some skin from a part of the body that is hidden by clothing and grafting it onto the area where the skin cancer was removed.
At Dermatology Medical Group of San Francisco, all consultations and treatments are done by our physicians. They have performed Mohs surgery on numerous patients for the treatment of skin cancer. A thorough examination, including biopsies, and a detailed medical history will determine if Mohs surgery is necessary.
The Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery Procedure
Mohs surgery can be performed using a local anesthetic and oral sedation. No two patients are the same, so the length of the surgery varies depending on the amount of tissue that must be removed. This cannot be determined until it is done and each layer of tissue is examined under the microscope.
Recovering from Mohs Surgery
If the amount of skin cancer you have is minimal, you may be able to return to work the day after your surgery. If your surgery was more extensive, you might need more time off from work. We will discuss this with you prior to your procedure.
Most patients experience some swelling and bruising for about a week after the surgery. If the procedure was performed on your face, sleep with your head elevated for a few nights, and use an ice pack to reduce swelling. If you experience post-operative pain, non-prescription medication such as Tylenol should be sufficient. Avoid medications with aspirin, such as ibuprofen, as they can cause bleeding.
We will examine you during follow-up appointments to make sure that you are healing properly.
Do you think you might need Mohs Surgery for skin cancer? Call us today for an appointment.