Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.  Mohs (pronounced "moes") surgery is a highly specialized treatment for the total removal of skin cancer.  This surgical technique was developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs over 40 years ago.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

The Mohs procedure differs from all other dermatological methods of treating skin cancer by the use of complete microscopic examination of all the tissue removed surgically as well as detailed mapping techniques to allow the surgeon to remove all the "roots" and extensions of the skin cancer.

The procedure begins after the skin is injected with a local anesthetic to make it completely numb.  Then the visible cancer and a very thin layer of surrounding skin are removed with a scalpel, carefully mapped, and examined microscopically.  If there is still cancer seen under the microscope, another very thin layer of skin is removed from the exact location.  This may be repeated as often as necessary in our dermatology office to completely remove the cancer and preserve normal skin.  

The surgical procedure alone only takes 10-15 minutes.  However, it takes a minimum of 60 minutes to prepare and microscopically examine the tissues.  Several surgical stages and microscopic examinations may be required, and you will be asked to wait between stages.

Although there is no way to tell before surgery how many stages will be necessary, most cancers are removed in 3 stages or less.  

The most difficult part of the procedure is waiting for the result of the surgery.  Since we do not know in advance how much time is necessary to remove the cancer and repair the wound, we ask that you make no other commitments for the entire day that you are scheduled for surgery in our dermatology office.

What are the advantages of Mohs Surgery?

By using these detailed mapping techniques and complete microscopic control, the Mohs surgeon can pinpoint areas involved with cancer that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.  Therefore, even the smallest microscopic "roots" of cancer can be removed.  The result is: 1) the removal of as little normal skin as possible and 2) the highest possibility for curing the cancer. 

What is the cure rate?

Using Mohs surgery, the percentage of cure is greater than 95 percent for most skin cancers even when other forms of treatment have failed.

Is hospitalization necessary?

No. Mohs surgery is performed in our dermatology office surgical suite and you may return home the same day. 

Will the surgery leave a scar?

Yes.  Any form of treatment will leave a scar.  However, because Mohs surgery removes as little normal tissue as possible, scarring is generally minimized, compared to other forms of treatment.