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What is Mohs Surgery?

Lot of patients ask us what is the difference between Mohs micrographic surgery and a regular excision for treatment of a skin cancer. The main difference is Mohs surgery (named after Dr. Frederik Mohs) is only indicated for certain skin cancers (mostly NON-melanoma skin cancers such as SCCs or BCCs) in cosmetically “sensitive” areas like the face, hands, pretibial skin, and the feet.

Why is Mohs Surgery indicated for Cosmetically Sensitive Areas?

Because it minimizes the margins needed to remove skin cancer. Usually, the clinically indicated margins for removal of a Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC) is about half a centimeter. You could imagine how large of a removal this could be if you already had a ½ centimeter skin cancer on your eyelid or nose, and then needed to take ½ centimeter off the entire diameter of the cancer –  there goes most of your normal tissue in the area!

Benefits of Mohs Surgery

The beauty of Mohs surgery is that it helps us to minimize the margins of normal tissue we take surrounding the skin cancer, give it to the outside laboratory we hired to come into the office for the day, and turn that piece of skin into a biopsy slide that we read immediately in the office same day to ensure we only go back and take more skin if it is actually positive for skin cancer, and locate the exact place on the skin that its positive and go only there to take more skin. It is truly a precise surgical technique, used to treat various types of skin cancer, though mostly NMSCs.

What Does Mohs Surgery Involve?

During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. Mohs has a success rate approaching 99%.