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Mohs Surgery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery is a technique used to remove skin growths, usually cancers such as basal cell carcinoma. It is named after Dr F.Mohs, who pioneered the technique in the 1930s.

 

How is Mohs surgery performed?

Mohs surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic (ie with you awake). Once the skin has been made numb, the Mohs surgeon removes the skin growth and then puts a sterile dressing on your wound. The skin sample is then processed in an adjoining Mohs laboratory, and placed on slides to be looked at under a microscope. The Mohs surgeon checks the slides to see if all of the cancer has been removed, and makes a record of any incompletely removed areas. You then come back to theatre to have a little more skin removed from any areas of remaining cancer. This skin sample is again prepared and placed on slides, and the process repeated until the slides show that all the cancer has been removed.

The wound is then usually closed on the same day and, depending on the wound size and location, it may either be sutured directly or require other forms of reconstruction, such as skin grafts. Occasionally, complex reconstruction may mean that you need a general anaesthetic, and this may be a day or two after your Mohs surgery.

 

Click to look at our list of Mohs surgeons near you

 

Why would I need Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery is considered as the ‘gold standard’ in removal of certain types of skin cancer such as Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC or ‘rodent ulcer’), or squamous cell carcinoma, and is usually reserved for those skin cancers that have recurred, have unclear borders, or have been incompletely removed by previous ‘standard’ surgery. Numerous studies have shown that such skin cancers have less chance of recurring after Mohs surgery than when standard surgery is used.

Mohs surgery also often results in slightly less ‘normal’ skin being removed than by standard surgery, which can in turn lead to less complex reconstruction being required for certain areas (such as the eyelid).

 

What are the risks of Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery carries the same risks as other surgical procedures, such as noticeable scarring, infection and postoperative bleeding. Occasionally, nerves may need to be cut to try to remove all the cancer, and this can lead to pain, numbness or muscle weakness in the area served by the nerve.

Although Mohs surgery is recognised as the best method to reduce recurrence of certain skin cancers, there is still a chance the growth could return in the following months or years (although this chance is less than if 'standard surgery' is used).

 

Click to look at our list of Mohs surgeons near you

 

Other SurgeryWise articles

You may also be interested to read our articles on basal cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma treatment, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma

 

 

The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding on the right procedure for you. If you have any concerns about a skin growth, seek medical advice immediately. Please also read our disclaimer

 

 
 
 
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