What Is Mohs Surgery, and When Is It a Treatment Option?

As the most effective treatment method for basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and more, Mohs micrographic surgery offers the highest cure rate out of all available skin cancer treatments. Named after Dr. Frederic E. Mohs, this surgery occurs in stages by removing the skin cancer layer by layer until all of the diseased tissue is gone.

A Breakdown of Mohs Micrographic Surgery

The goal of Mohs micrographic surgery is to remove your skin cancer while leaving as much healthy skin intact as possible. Typically, this procedure lasts only a few hours. However, dermatologists often recommend that you reserve the entire day for the surgery, as it can run longer in more severe cases. If Dermatology Associates recommends this procedure for your condition, you can anticipate the following steps:

Preparation for surgery

Before receiving Mohs surgery, you will receive a localized anesthetic to ensure that you remain comfortable. Then, your care provider will sanitize the area where your skin cancer sits to minimize the risk of infection. Finally, your skin cancer will be outlined with a medical-grade pen to help our team perform accurate incisions during the surgery.

Removing the first layer

First, your surgeon will use a tool to remove both the visible portion of your skin cancer and a thin layer beneath it. We will only make a cut that is slightly bigger than your cancer to help spare your healthy tissue. Each layer is referred to as a stage, so after stage one (this first incision), you will be temporarily bandaged and asked to wait while this layer is examined.

Running lab tests

Once the first layer arrives at the lab, it is stained and thoroughly diagrammed. Afterward, the sample is processed into micrographic slides, which are reviewed to determine whether all cancer cells have been removed.

Removing the next layer

If tumor cells still remain, subsequent layers will be cut and analyzed until the cancer is completely removed. Since each layer is fully diagrammed, your surgeon will know exactly where to cut at each stage.

Who Provides Mohs Surgery?

Whether a single physician or a team of clinicians is in charge of your procedure, several important roles must be filled for Mohs surgery to be successful. These include the surgeon who removes your cancer, the pathologist who analyzes it, and the surgeon who closes or reconstructs your wound. Following Mohs surgery, the Dermatology Associates team also has the ability to perform reconstructive surgery on the affected area.

When Should You Get Mohs Surgery?

With such a high success rate, Mohs surgery is the treatment of choice when patients’ skin cancer meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Has a high likelihood or history of recurrence
  • Is present in a highly visible or sensitive area
  • Has irregular, unclear borders
  • Is large in size
  • Demonstrates an aggressive growth pattern

Schedule Your Appointment

Thanks to Amin Fazeli, M.D, Ph.D., FACMS, Dermatology Associates is one of only a few practices in central New York to offer Mohs micrographic skin cancer surgery. Located in Fayetteville, we have been providing patients with Mohs and other skin cancer treatments since 2008. To learn if this treatment modality is right for you, contact us by calling 315-663-0100 today.

Request an Appointment

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