Skin cancer remains the among most treatable (and the most common) types of cancer, but that doesn’t make hearing a diagnosis any less scary. Many skin cancer patients are relieved when they learn that they’re eligible for Mohs surgery — a safe and effective option for treating and even curing the most common forms of skin cancer. If you’re researching options from Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Associates and other Naperville dermatology practices, you probably have plenty of questions about Mohs surgery.
What is Mohs surgery?
Named for the surgeon who pioneered the technique in 1938, Mohs surgery gradually removes the skin around a cancerous lesion, layer by layer – removing as little uninvolved skin as possible. As each layer is removed, it’s examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Once the surgeon reaches a layer with no cancer cells present, this means that the procedure has successfully removed the lesion, and the surgery is over.
This technique ensures that the surgeon only removes the minimum amount of tissue necessary to excise the cancerous cells, avoiding unnecessary scarring and disfigurement. Because the procedure is concentrated solely on the place where cancerous tissue is present, it requires only local anesthesia.
What is recovery like?
Recuperation following Mohs is largely dependent on the extent of surgery. Tenderness, swelling, redness, and temporary numbness are normal symptoms, and they all typically subside as the skin heals. Even in the most straightforward procedure, there’s nothing wrong with resting, and you may wish to take a day or 2 off from work to relax at home. If your surgery is more extensive, you may have additional guidelines to follow during recovery.
What are the benefits?
Mohs surgery, while it can be time-consuming, spares more skin and tissue than traditional skin cancer excision, leaving patients with smaller scars and better results. That was the big idea behind the technique that made it so innovative in the first place, and the level of precision it provides makes Mohs surgery just as important today.
It also has a very successful track record. When used to treat basal cell carcinoma, success rates hover between 95 to 99%. By removing the main lesion along with the “legs” or “roots” of the skin cancer, Mohs surgery also significantly reduces the risk of recurrence.
Who can perform a Mohs surgery?
Any surgeon can technically perform Mohs surgery, but additional training is necessary in order for a surgeon to offer patients the best results possible. In addition to my formal training and board certification in dermatology, I’m also fellowship-trained Mohs micrographic surgeon, which means I’ve undergone an additional year of training on this specialized technique.
Thanks to this training, I’m especially adept at all phases of Mohs surgery, from the initial cut to the nuances of dermatopathology. To get the best results from your own Mohs surgery, look for a dermatologist who has successfully completed a Mohs fellowship. It’s the single most important thing you can do to make sure your procedure goes smoothly and the cancerous cells are removed.
Have more questions? Leave a comment below or get in touch today.