Mohs surgery, or Mohs micrographic surgery, is a surgical method to remove skin cancer. It is named after Dr. Frederich Mohs, its inventor. The surgery is used to treat two types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
The procedure is carried out in the physician’s office. It involves removing layers of the skin affected by the cancer. Unlike other surgical procedures, which generally allow for only one to three percent examination of tumor margins, Mohs involves 100 percent examination. During the procedure, the skin is numbed using a local anesthetic. The layers are removed one after the other after confirming (by viewing under microscope) that the next layer has cancerous tissue. If no cancerous tissue is detected in the next layer, the procedure is stopped. Once all the cancer has been removed, the area is stitched back together. The procedure may take three to four hours. Sometimes, you may need reconstructive procedures like skin grafts for better cosmetic results.
Mohs surgery is particularly useful in treating recurring cancers and cancers in areas like face, hands and feet, genitals, and head, scalp, and neck. Its advantages are:
Post surgery, the stitches may have to be in place for up to 3 weeks, after which you will return to the doctor to get them removed. During the recovery period, you may experience bruising, itching, bleeding, or swelling. Mohs surgery also involves risk of infection, hematoma (or bleeding into the wound), muscle or nerve damage (temporary or permanent), and huge scars. However, complications are rare. Any discomfort you feel after the surgery can usually be taken care of by over-the-counter analgesics, but, if required, medication will be prescribed.
If you want to find out more about treating skin cancer, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Gangaram Ragi at Advanced Laser and Skin Cancer Center. Our office is located in Teaneck, New Jersey, and we can be reached at 201.836.9696.