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Niceville (Bluewater Bay), FL

Niceville (Bluewater Bay), FL

What Is Mohs Surgery, and How Can It Help?

Everyone is familiar with the most common forms of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation. When patients are first diagnosed with skin cancer, they often think that they’ll have to undergo these treatments.

If you have a severe form of skin cancer, like melanoma, your doctor might recommend traditional cancer treatments. However, if you have a form of localized skin cancer, like squamous or basal cell carcinoma, your doctor and dermatologist will likely recommend Mohs surgery. If you have melanoma, he or she might recommend Mohs surgery alone, or a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

If you’re about to undergo Mohs surgery, you probably have some questions about this skin cancer-specific form of treatment. Read below to learn more about how it was developed, how it works, and how it helps.

What Is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery dates back to the 1930s, when it was developed by a surgeon named Dr. Frederic E. Mohs. Mohs created this technique to thoroughly remove cancerous cells from his patients’ skin while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy cells.

Mohs surgery occurs in stages and removes the cancerous cells in layers. This way, the doctor only removes as much skin as absolutely necessary-he or she doesn’t need to cut any deeper than required into the skin to completely remove the cancer from the body.

If you have Mohs surgery, a surgeon works together with an oncologist or technician. The surgeon removes the top layer of the cancerous area, and then a technician freezes the layer and looks at it through a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells in the skin. The surgeon continues to excise thin layers until the skin is cancer-free.

This entire process happens on the same day-you don’t need to leave the office and then return for more surgery.

Because Mohs surgery happens in stages, you can expect to spend at least an hour in your surgeon’s office. You’ll visit the operating room and then wait in a different room for your results. If the surgeon needs to remove more skin, he or she will call you back to the operating room for another treatment.

Each removal only takes around 10 minutes, and each waiting period takes around half an hour. Once you’ve been declared cancer-free, you can expect the stitching-up process to take about 20 minutes.

Make sure you bring something to amuse yourself with, like a magazine or your smartphone, while you wait. You probably won’t be longer than an hour or two, but it’s hard for the surgeon to give you an exact estimate.

Luckily for you, the surgery is relatively easy. It almost always occurs in a surgeon’s office and not in a hospital, and the surgeon only needs to use local anesthetic to numb the area. You won’t have to pay for a hospital stay, and you won’t need to undergo general anesthesia except in rare cases.

Why Is Mohs Surgery So Effective?

Mohs surgery is an incredibly precise form of cancer treatment. It only removes the affected cells and leaves as much healthy skin as possible to help the area regenerate. Since a technician examines the cells on site, you don’t have to return for multiple treatments-you can rest assured that your cancer has been entirely removed on the same day of the surgery.

This type of surgery has the highest success rate of any type of basal or squamous cell cancer surgery. In fact, it has a 98% success rate, which is why dermatologists and doctors recommend it so frequently. In the vast majority of cases, you won’t have to schedule additional surgery to treat the cancer. One visit solves the problem.

When Do Dermatologists Recommend Mohs Surgery?

As mentioned above, Mohs surgery is most effective for squamous or basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, though it can be used to treat other, rarer types of skin cancer.

Most doctors recommend Mohs surgery if a previous treatment proved ineffective. If you already had a mole removed but the cancerous tissue grew back, Mohs surgery will do a better job of preventing the problem from recurring. Since Mohs surgery is so precise, dermatologists also tend to recommend it to remove carcinoma on areas like the face and neck, where you want to minimize visible scarring.

Who Can Get Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is effective for nearly everyone, so it’s more likely than not that your doctor will recommend this surgery to you after your skin cancer diagnosis. However, this surgery might not be a good choice for you if you have a phobia of surgery, are allergic to anesthetic, or have an intense illness or very bad health.

In these cases, your doctor can recommend alternative treatments for you or talk about other ways to make Mohs surgery work for you. You might also undergo other types of minimally invasive surgery if the cancerous region on your skin is relatively small-Mohs surgery might only be necessary if the cancer recurs after a shorter procedure.

If we recommend Mohs surgery as one of your potential treatments, you can rest assured that we’ll answer all your questions, give you simple preparation and care instructions, and make sure you feel comfortable and calm during the surgery. After your skin cancer diagnosis, don’t hesitate to ask for any additional information.

If you’re worried about your skin and want a consultation and examination, you can get in touch with our office any time.

Dermatology Surgery Center - Niceville, FL (Bluewater Bay)