For the treatment of skin surgery, few surgical procedures are as well-known or highly recommended as Mohs Micrographic Surgery. Developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs in the 1940s, Mohs Micrographic Surgery—also called simply Mohs Surgery—has a success rate of up to 99% with many common skin surgeries.
Mohs Surgery works because it precisely removes all of the cancerous cells while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible, unlike some other skin cancer surgeries that involve the removal of up to twice as much healthy tissue.
Despite its invention almost 80 years ago, Mohs Surgery has been refined using modern technology and procedural finesse. Any physician wish to act as lead physician while performing Mohs Surgery must possess the Mohs Surgery medical subspecialty as awarded solely by the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology. This requirement assures you, the patient, that your Mohs Surgery is being performed by an expert specialist.
The actual procedure usually takes one full day, although procedures sometimes require a second day based on the magnitude of cancerous growth. A nurse briefs the patient on exactly what is going to happen: the lead physician will perform a small incision at the cancer site. All of the visible tumor cells will be scraped out using a surgical instrument.
Then, an area of tissue from the area immediately surrounding the tumor site is cut away and removed. This tissue is divided into samples which are then divided into smaller pieces and placed on slides by a technician. The lead physician uses dye to illustrate the characteristics of each sample and then places the slide under the lens of a powerful microscope.
The lead physician examines the samples very closely, looking for any remaining cancer cells that were not removed with the surgical instrument in the surrounding tissue. If any are found, another area of tissue from around the cancer site is removed, and the process is repeated until the lead physician is confident that all of the cancerous material has been removed.
This kind of precision and optical certainty is what makes Mohs Surgery so effective, yet it also allows the lead physician to avoid unnecessary “wholesale” removal of healthy tissue.
Throughout the entire one-day or two-day procedure, most of the time is spent preparing and analyzing the tissue samples. The patient spends only a very short time actually being operated upon, sometimes as little as 30 minutes. It can seem like a long process with much downtime, but the length and thoroughness also accounts for the success of Mohs Surgery over other “one-and-done” type surgeries that rely more on speculation than on actual visual evidence that the cancer has been completely removed.
The lead physician and any assisting physicians or nurses that assist him or her are dedicated to minimizing the appearance of scar tissue. In many cases, the incision produced by Mohs Surgery is so small, the surgical wound is allowed to heal completely naturally; not even stitches are required. In some cases, stitches may be used, and in the event of unsightly scarring, numerous reconstructive surgery procedures such as skin grafts may be used at a later date. The first priority of your post-operative journey is full healing of the surgical wound.
Mohs Surgery is a trusted and time-tested method of combating skin cancer and winning. To learn more about it, call us today.