Mohs surgery, also known as “chemosurgery” is a procedure that is one of the most effective treatments for skin cancer. The surgical application has high patient satisfaction, high cure rates, low reoccurrence rates, best cosmetic results of any treatment and has gained significant advantages, making this a popular and preferred method to skin cancer removal.
During the surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. The goal is to remove as much skin cancer as possible, while doing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Mohs surgery is used to treat the most common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and some kinds of melanoma. It is useful for skin cancers that:
- Have a high risk of reoccurrence or that have recurred after previous treatment
- Are located in areas where you want to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hairline, hands, feet and genitals)
- Have borders that are hard to define
- Are large or aggressive
The surgery can be technically challenging, but we have dermatologists that have undergone specialized training to complete Mohs surgery. It is done on an outpatient basis in an operating or procedure room that has a nearby laboratory to examine the tissue. The procedure lasts about 4 hours, but most advise reserving the whole day.
The operated area will be cleaned, outlined and injected with an anesthetic to numb the skin. You won’t feel any discomfort during the surgery. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will use a scalpel to remove the visible portion of cancer and a thin layer of tissue. This takes only a few minutes. The tissue is then taken to analysis, which takes an hour. Once the tissue is examined with a microscope, the surgeon will determine whether to continue the surgery or not. The process is repeated until the last tissue sample is cancer free. You will know your results right away and won’t leave your appointment until all the skin cancer is removed.
After the surgery, your surgeon will choose from the following:
- Let the wound heal on its own
- Use stitches to close the wound
- Shift skin from an adjacent area to cover the wound
- Use a skin graft from another part of the body to cover the wound.
We have surgery centers in Annapolis, Prince Frederick, Glen Burnie-North County and Hagerstown. All are staffed with surgeons specifically trained in Mohs surgery. Visit this website for more information.