Mohs Surgery Recovery Guide


According to statistics from the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas – the two most common forms of skin cancer – are highly correctable if caught early and treated appropriately. Mohs surgery is the leading technique for addressing these cancers.

What Is Mohs Surgery?

By precisely removing cancerous tissue one layer at a time, our board-certified dermatologists can preserve more healthy skin with a less invasive micrographic procedure that results in a smaller scar than other approaches.

While Mohs surgery is a relatively minor operation, it requires your surgeon to remove all malignant cells, continuing to excise tissue until no more cancer remains. The resulting wound may require stitches or reconstruction with skin grafts to provide a better cosmetic outcome. Here is our guide to what you can expect when recovering from Mohs skin cancer surgery.

How to Heal From Mohs Surgery

Most of our patients experience some swelling and bruising for about a week after their procedure. To help remedy these, you can apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel at 20-minute intervals. If you have cancerous tissue excised from your face, we recommend sleeping with your head elevated for a few nights.

Any post-operative pain should be minimal, and you can manage it with over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol. Avoid ibuprofen, which can cause bleeding. Please contact us immediately if you experience significant discomfort.

We recommend limiting vigorous exercise or movement for at least a week after your Mohs surgery to allow your wound to heal and prevent bleeding. You may feel well enough to return to work the day after your surgery if we only need to remove a small amount of tissue. For more extensive surgeries, you might want to take some time off for recovery, which we’ll discuss with you beforehand. Your surgeon will examine you during follow-up appointments to ensure you are healing properly and determine if any additional procedures are necessary.

Do You Need Mohs Surgery?

Often, irregularities in moles are the earliest indicators of skin cancer. Pay attention to these qualities, which you can remember with the mnemonic device ABCD.

  • Asymmetry: The two halves of the mole do not match up.
  • Border: The mole has an irregular or vaguely defined shape.
  • Color: Moles may display shades of tan, brown, or black and can even be white, red, or blue.
  • Diameter: Carcinomas and melanomas are usually larger than a pencil eraser at the time of the initial diagnosis.

San Francisco’s Expert Dermatologists

At Dermatology Medical Group of San Francisco, our experienced physicians personally perform all consultations and treatments. We have successfully treated numerous patients with Mohs surgery. To determine whether this procedure is necessary in your case, we will thoroughly examine you and ask you questions about your health history.

Our team takes a highly consultative approach to dermatology, which benefits you by giving you the option to receive expert advice at every appointment. If you notice a mole or freckle has begun to look different or changed size, shape, or color, contact us today to schedule a skin screening or consultation.