Mohs Surgery in Pasadena, CA
Mohs or skin cancer surgery carefully eliminates skin cancer lesions and removes as little healthy tissue as possible. Our goal at Comprehensive Dermatology Center in Pasadena is to treat melanomas, basal cell carcinomas, squamous, and other less common tumors associated with skin cancer. Fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon Dr. Han Lee begins the procedure by removing each tumor one layer at a time and examining the tissue’s cellular makeup until she is confident the cancerous tumor is completely gone.
Skin Cancer Treatments
The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Their names define the skin cells from where the skin cancer originates. Initial skin cancer treatments are highly successful. These procedures include cryosurgery, topical medications, electrodesiccation and curettage, radiation, excision, and Mohs micrographic surgery.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer, with over 1.2 million reported cases in the United States annually. The areas most affected are the neck, face, and other areas exposed to the sun. Skin cancer commonly begins as a small bump, like a pimple, that continues to get more prominent, often bleeds, and never completely heals.
The blemishes may be red, flesh-colored, or darker than adjacent skin. They rarely spread to distant parts of the body but, if left untreated, can cause disfigurement.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma behaves much like basal cell carcinoma but has a higher risk of spreading depending on its location.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs surgery is a specialized technique for skin cancer developed by Dr. Frederick Mohs in the 1930s. It differs from other skin cancer treatments because it allows for the complete removal of skin cancer, including its underlying roots, with the aid of a microscope. In addition, we preserve as much normal adjacent tissue as possible during the removal process. Mohs surgery yields the highest cure rate for skin cancer because of our meticulous manner of examining, mapping, and removing the tissue.
However, Mohs micrographic surgery is not appropriate for treating all skin cancers. Mohs micrographic surgery is reserved for treating recurrent skin cancers and cancers located on the nose, eyelids, lips, and other areas where maximum tissue preservation is critical for cosmetic and functional reasons.
Dr. Lee has successfully treated thousands of skin cancers employing Mohs micrographic surgery. In addition, she has a reputation for paying detailed attention to reconstruction for optimal aesthetic results.
Mohs Surgery Consultation
During your consultation, we will examine the site of your skin cancer and medical history to determine whether the Mohs micrographic surgery technique is appropriate for you. It also allows you to meet Dr. Lee and her staff and learn about the procedure. Please bring any pathological reports or biopsy slides to your consultation. Photographs will be taken of the skin cancer site before, during, and after surgical treatment.
The pictures become part of your medical record and will be sent to your referring physician. The skin cancer photos may also be used for educational purposes, but all identifying features will be eliminated.
During your visit, we will ask about your medications, allergies, and any current medical problems. For example, we need to know if you have artificial joints, artificial heart valves, or organ transplants since you may need additional medications before surgery. If you are on several medications, please bring a list.
Preparing for Mohs Surgery
The best preparation for Mohs surgery is a good night’s rest and breakfast on the morning of surgery.
If you take prescription medications, continue to take them unless otherwise specified by your physician. However, ten days before surgery avoid taking aspirin or aspirin-containing medications (Anacin, Bufferin, Advil, Motrin, etc.). If you are taking Coumadin or Plavix, please check with your primary physician to see whether it can be stopped before surgery. Tylenol may be taken at any time before and after surgery.
The Day of Surgery
Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure performed in one of our advanced, in-house treatment suites. Whenever possible, you will have the luxury of staying in your private room for the duration of the process. Most of the time is spent in the waiting room for the tissue to be processed and evaluated for any remaining tumor. Due to the nature of Mohs surgery, it is impossible to predict precisely how long it will take. Thus, you shouldn’t schedule other events on the day of your procedure.
You may want to bring a book or magazine and a light snack to help you occupy your time while you wait for tissue processing and microscopic evaluation.
The skin cancer site will be cleansed and anesthetized. Next, the thin margin around the tumor will be surgically removed, and a dressing will be applied to the wound. While you wait in the waiting area, the tissue will be mapped, processed, and examined microscopically for residual tumors. If there is any remaining tumor, you will be escorted back to the procedure room for additional surgery. The process will be continued until no cancer remains.
Once the skin cancer is completely removed, we will examine your wound. If necessary, the injury may be repaired with various options.
Call the Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena today for a skin examination or to consult with us if you have been diagnosed with skin cancer.
Mohs Surgery FAQs
What type of cancer is Mohs surgery used for?
Mohs surgery treats skin cancer. This includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It also treats melanoma and other less-common skin cancers.
Can skin cancer come back after Mohs surgery?
Although it’s unlikely skin cancer will return if you use a qualified surgeon, it can reoccur, or another form of cancer can emerge.
How can you prevent skin cancer from coming back?
You take several precautions to reduce your risk of skin cancer returning. Including:
- Minimize sun exposure from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 plus at least one-half hour before going outdoors and reapply as instructed.
- Protect your lips with a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen.
- Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses.
Do you need plastic surgery after Mohs surgery?
After Mohs surgery, many patients require plastic surgery performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, ENT surgeon, or cosmetic surgeon.
Does Mohs surgery leave a scar?
As with any surgical intervention, some scarring will occur. However, Mohs surgery lowers the risk of permanent scarring with proper wound care. The more cautious you are about sun exposure and keeping the wound covered with a silicone dressing, the less likely you will have permanent scarring from Mohs surgery.
How long do I wear a bandage after Mohs surgery?
The compression bandage placed following surgery must remain for at least 48 hours unless your surgeon directs you otherwise. It’s critical the bandage stay dry for the same length of time.
How long after Mohs surgery can I shower?
You can shower or get the area wet 48 hours after Mohs surgery, then change the dressing daily. Remember to remove the bandage gently.
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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