Mohs surgery or Mohs excision is a type of chemosurgery for removing skin cancers – usually squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, two of the most common types of skin cancer. The surgery involves taking very thin excisions of tissue and using a microscope to check each excision for cancer cells under a microscope. When an excision shows no cancer, the surgery is complete. In using this technique, more of the skin’s healthy cells can be saved, allowing for a faster healing process with less disfigurement.
Mohs surgeons can also often perform Mohs reconstruction. Plastic surgery techniques are used to restore the function, shape, contour, and appearance of the area where the Mohs surgery was performed. Mohs reconstruction at the Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena can be performed in the comfort of our peaceful office on the same day as the Mohs procedure, avoiding the need for a hospital.
With hundreds of complicated Mohs reconstructive procedures performed in our office setting, Dr. Lee has the experience to repair complex defects. Reconstruction techniques sometimes include skin grafts or skin flaps when there is not enough skin to stretch and cover the wound during the healing process.
What Can Mohs Surgery Do For Me?
Mohs surgery is usually done on the face and is best used in areas near important structures such as the eyelids, nose, and ears. Because this technique allows for the preservation of tissue, it can be helpful on parts of the hands and feet as well where scar tissue could inhibit function. It is also especially effective on skin cancer with borders that are not clearly defined, skin cancers in which other treatments have failed and the cancer has come back, and skin cancer in areas where scar tissue is already present.
Mohs surgery allows the surgeon to make sure all cancer has been removed without also removing healthy tissue. This includes the removal of any roots of the cancer below the skin that is invisible without a microscope. One of the main benefits of Mohs is that since it uses micrographic techniques, it is extremely precise.
Additional advantages of Mohs surgery include:
- The procedure is performed from start to finish by a skin cancer expert.
- It has the highest cure rate available for skin cancer.
- It leaves the smallest possible scar.
What is Mohs Surgery Like?
Local anesthesia and oral sedation are usually sufficient for this surgery and reconstruction. Therefore, you will not feel the surgery and reconstruction procedures.
The length of time of your surgery is very individual depending on your case. It will be difficult for the surgeon to predict because tissue excisions continue until all cancer cells are gone. Only then can the amount of necessary reconstruction be determined.
What Will I Experience While Recovering From Mohs Surgery?
All forms of surgery leave a scar, but Mohs surgery leaves minimal scarring. This usually means that the final wound is only slightly larger than the visible area where the tumor was removed.
Following your Mohs surgery, we will discuss post-operative care with you and give you detailed written instructions. Swelling and slight bruising are common, including a black eye condition if the surgery was near the eye. These symptoms usually subside within 5-7 days.
Sleeping with your head slightly elevated and using an ice pack can help to ease discomfort. If necessary, you can take Tylenol to manage pain, or we can prescribe medication. We request that patients avoid aspirin and ibuprofen-containing drugs, as they can increase bleeding.
The amount of time you need to take off from work will depend upon the extent of your surgery. We will let you know how much time you will need for recovery. Many patients need not take more than one day off.
Call Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena today for an examination of your skin or to consult with us if you have been diagnosed with skin cancer.
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