Mohs Surgery: Uses, Risks, and Procedure Details

Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, treats various types of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The procedure involves cutting away the affected skin, layer by layer, and closely examining it for signs of cancer. Skin removal goes on until the examination shows no cancer cells. The goal of Chevy Chase Mohs surgery is to remove all of the skin cancer while preserving the surrounding healthy skin and tissue. Mohs surgery has a 98 to 99% success rate, making it the most effective skin cancer treatment. Removing skin cancer layer by layer allows the surgeon to ensure all cancer has gone, reducing the need for other treatments or surgery.

When is Mohs surgery necessary?

As previously mentioned, Mohs surgery is used to treat common skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is also an effective treatment for melanoma and other less-common skin cancers. Your doctor may suggest this treatment if you have skin cancer with a high risk of returning. Mohs surgery is also useful for skin cancers in areas where you want minimal damage to surrounding tissues, including places around the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hands, genitals, and feet. The procedure is also used to treat skin cancers with edges that are hard to define, large, or grow quickly.

How safe is Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery involves using local anesthesia, eliminating the common side effects or surgical risks of using general anesthesia. However, Mohs surgery is associated with risks such as temporary bleeding and pain around the treated area. It also poses the risk of an infection in the area where surgery was done. Mohs surgery can result in more serious problems, but these are less common. For example, you may experience temporary or permanent numbness of the surgical area; this occurs if nerve endings are injured or cut during surgery. If the skin cancer is large, the surgeon may need to cut muscle nerve, causing temporary or permanent weakness of the surgical site. You may also experience shooting pain, and a keloid or raised scar may form.

What to expect during Mohs surgery

Depending on the location of the skin cancer, you may or may not need to wear a surgical gown. Your surgeon will clean the skin to be operated on and mark it with a special pen. You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the skin, so you don’t feel pain during the procedure. The shot may cause a sudden sting that might hurt for a few seconds.

Once the local anesthesia takes effect, the surgeon uses a scalpel to remove the visible part of the cancer. They also excise a thin layer of tissue beneath and around the affected skin and place a temporary bandage at the incision site. The tissue will be taken to the lab for analysis; this is usually part of the procedure that takes the longest time.

If there are more cancer cells, the surgeon proceeds with surgery and removes an additional layer of tissue from the affected skin. The surgeon carefully removes tissue with cancer and causes no harm to healthy tissue. Again, the surgeon takes the sample to the lab for close examination. The cycle continues until the last tissue sample is cancer-free.

If you have questions about Mohs surgery, consult your specialist at Ali Hendi, MD.


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