What are the risks of surgery?

Although your surgeon will remove as little tissue as possible, there are some general risks associated with surgery. Your doctor will discuss these and any additional problems associated specifically with your situation.

  • As tumors are often larger than their surface appearance indicates, the wound after complete removal of the cancer may be larger than anticipated. Our primary goal is to remove the entire tumor.
  • We make every effort to obtain an optimal cosmetic appearance after surgery. With any excision surgical procedure, scarring will occur at the site of removal.
  • Occasionally, the surgical site may be slow to heal, grafts or flaps may fail, or the repair may reopen after closure. The most common risk factors for these include smoking, diabetes, bleeding, poor physical condition, or other disease states.
  • Skin cancer can involve the nerves. With removal of the skin cancer, there may be local numbness or, less common, loss of local muscle movement after the procedure. Occasionally, nearby nerves can be injured during the reconstruction of the defect following surgery. For sensory nerves, sensation will usually return over a time period of up to 24 months. Motor nerves are less likely to have a return of function. For damage to major motor nerves, microsurgical repair may be required to salvage function.
  • No procedure can guarantee that the cancer will never come back. With Mohs surgery, however, your cure rate will be maximized. Previously treated tumors and large, longstanding tumors have the greatest chance of recurrence.
  • Although infection is rare, it can occur. Make sure that you follow your wound care instructions carefully and care for your surgical site on a daily basis.