Mohs surgery is a surgical technique for precisely removing skin cancers; it is named after its founder Dr. Fredric Mohs. It is mainly performed on certain Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, but can be performed on other skin cancers as well.
Mohs surgery is the most effective treatment for most types of skin cancer. It is a skin sparing treatment, meaning that tissue is taken in levels, processed and inspected microscopically to see the cancer at the cellular level. Once the tissue is looked at, if cancer cells are still present, the surgeon will go back and remove more skin from the area of positivity. This way your healthy tissue is spared and you will be left with the smallest possible scar. In most cases, the closure of the defect is done right after surgery.
When performed by an experienced surgeon, like Northshore Dermatology’s Dr. David Pate, Mohs surgery offers the highest cancer cure rate while minimizing removal of the surrounding healthy tissue. Mohs surgery is performed under local anesthetic adding to the safety of this procedure.
What to Expect Day of Surgery
- You, along with 5-7 other patients, will be scheduled in the morning for Mohs surgery. Since your cancer will be taken out level by level, expect to be in the clinic for 4 hours minimum. Please don’t make any other appointments for the day of surgery.
- There will be some intermittent waiting throughout the day. This will be while your tissue is being processed, during other patient’s Mohs surgeries and while closures are being performed.
- Eat breakfast before your surgery. The local anesthetic does not require you to fast. There will also be light snacks, coffee, and water to enjoy while waiting.
- Take your PRESCRIPTION medications as regularly scheduled, including Coumadin (Warfarin), or aspirin if prescribed by your physician. If NOT PRESCRIBED by your physician avoid aspirin and aspirin-containing medications 10 days prior to your surgery. Also, avoid Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) 48 hours before surgery.
- Since you will be here for the whole morning, bring any medication that you take later in the day in case your surgery runs into or after lunch.
- If your cancer is on or near your eye or nose, have a family member or friend accompany you the day of surgery. You will leave with a bulky bandage that could obscure your vision and driving abilities. It is best to have someone come along that will drive you home.
- For smokers, it is highly recommended that you cease smoking. If this is not possible, cut back to at least half your normal level for 2 weeks before and after surgery. You will heal faster and have fewer complications the less you smoke.
- The first 24-48 hours after surgery you will be advised to limit your activity. No heavy lifting, exercise, strenuous activities and possible limits on bending over.
- You will be given wound care instructions and will be shown how to care for your wound before you are discharged. You will also schedule a return visit for follow up and suture removal.
- Please dress comfortably and leave your valuables at home.