Since its development by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs in the late 1930s, Mohs surgery has become the most effective treatment option for several types of skin cancer. According to John Hopkins University, the procedure has a 99% success rate in many cases. Learn why numerous dermatologists recommend Mohs surgery for patients with skin cancer from the experienced staff at Dermatology Associates.
What Does Mohs Surgery Look Like?
The primary objective of Mohs surgery is to remove skin cancer from the patient without obstructing healthy skin cells. To accomplish this goal, the surgeon performs the procedure in stages. Before the first stage, a nurse will administer local anesthesia to numb the affected area of the body. They may also make marks on the body using a medical pen to guide the surgeon’s efforts.
Once the preparation is complete, the surgeon will come into the operating room and use a scalpel to remove the visible layer of the cancerous skin and a thin layer underneath it. The surgeon then dyes the skin with ink to track where it was taken from the body and sends the sample to the laboratory. After this first stage, the nurse will return to bandage the incised area and direct the patient to a waiting room.
In the lab, a technician freezes the skin sample to prepare it for examination. When ready, the skin is cut into thin sections, placed on slides, and stained. If the doctor detects cancer cells in the skin, they know to go back and cut more out. The patient is called back from the waiting room to receive more local anesthesia, and the surgeon performs the second stage of Mohs surgery. The surgeon will alternate between cutting out the skin cancer and testing the samples until only healthy skin remains.
Who Receives Mohs Surgery?
Due to its high cure rate, Mohs surgery is the main treatment for many people suffering from skin cancer. For instance, doctors often recommend it for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and some variations of melanoma. Patients with skin cancer that has the following features may benefit from getting Mohs surgery:
- Is large or rapidly spreading
- Has returned after treatment or has heightened potential to recur
- Displays a distinct growth pattern
- Was not eliminated with a different procedure
- Has unusual borders that are hard to define
- Appears in an area of elevated visibility or sensitivity where preserving healthy skin is essential, such as the face, ears, neck, hands, fingers, feet, or toes
How Long Does the Procedure Last?
Mohs surgery usually only takes four to eight hours to complete, but the length will vary based on the depth of skin cancer. Sometimes, cancer appears relatively small on the surface, but there are multiple layers of growth below, making the procedure longer than initially expected. In any case, most skin cancer is removed entirely after the second stage.
While the surgery only lasts a couple of hours, dermatologists may ask the patient to set aside the whole day to ensure they have ample time to extract all cancerous cells. Once the procedure ends, the doctor can conduct reconstructive surgery before the day is out. In this way, Mohs surgery provides single-visit convenience for patients, which other surgical procedures for skin cancer may not be able to promise.
What Are the Effects of Mohs Surgery?
Like any other surgery, Mohs will produce scarring in the patient. With adequate wound care, these scars may take up to a year to heal as the body creates new blood vessels to restore the affected area. Additionally, this scarring will eventually dissipate. Without Mohs surgery, a person may experience longer-lasting scars from untreated skin cancer.
Besides scarring, patients may also notice bruising, swelling, bleeding, soreness, or infection after Mohs surgery. Less common complications include itching, enlarged scarring, intense pain, and numb or weak sensations. Typically, dermatologists will schedule follow-up appointments with the patient to monitor their progress after the surgery.
Attain Mohs Surgery from Dermatology Associates
High success rates, minimal aftereffects, and short durations indicate why those with skin cancer choose Mohs surgery. Patients in Central New York searching for skilled doctors who can perform this procedure should turn to Dermatology Associates in Fayetteville. Dr. Amin Fazeli, M.D., Ph.D., FAAD, FACMS, has performed thousands of Mohs surgeries and works with other doctors, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners to deliver comprehensive skin care services.
Contact the office to learn more about Mohs surgeries and other procedures, or schedule an appointment today.