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Mohs What to Expect

What to Expect when Treating Skin Cancer with Mohs Surgery

Once it’s been determined that the skin cancer will be removed by the Mohs surgery technique, the Mohs surgery patient should expect a few things before the treatment starts. The Mohs surgery technique is designed to be less invasive by removing less tissue and yet has the highest cure rate for skin cancer when compared with other treatments.

However, as a practical matter, here’s what to expect from the Mohs surgery process.

  1. On the day of the Mohs surgery procedure, you will have a morning appoitment. You will have a quick review of the procedure and you will be able to ask questions.
  2. Each level of tissue removal can take between an hour and an hour and a half. It’s impossible to predict how many tissue removal layers will be taken so plan to take off the entire day.
  3. Expect that the actual surgery session will be only around 30 minutes. The rest of the time is spent in processing and analysis. Most of your time will be spent in the waiting room – not the operating room.
  4. Most Mohs surgery procedures take only a single day, as the Mohs surgeon will remove 1 – 3 layers of tissue. At minimum, expect 3 hours. If the Mohs surgeon needs to take 3 sections or more , expect a 6 – 7 hour procedure.
  5. It’s rare but possible that the entire section of skin cancer will not be removed in one session. With the severity and spread of your particular type of skin cancer, you may be asked to return on another day for repeat tissue removal sessions.
  6. At the end of the Mohs surgery, you will be left with a surgical wound. Depending on circumstances, the Mohs surgeon will:
    1. Let the wound heal naturally
    2. Stitch the wound closed
    3. Use a skin graft
    4. Use a skin flap
    5. Refer you to a plastic surgeon
  7. There are risks with any procedure and complications can sometimes occur after surgery. Studies have shown Mohs surgery minimizes risk and reduces complications since it is done under local anesthetic and is tissue sparing. If you develop any bleeding or pain let us know. Some minor bleeding, itchiness or redness that’s short-lived is normal.
  8. While we strive to make the Mohs surgery less invasive and we make sure that we do the best job to reconstruct the affected area, any surgery will create a scar. Caring for your wound by keeping it clean and following the instructions in our wound care packet will help significantly reduce the prominence of the scar.
  9. You may be required to return for secondary reconstruction or revision days, weeks, or months later.
  10. After having skin cancer, your chances of developing another case of skin cancer is significantly higher. We will give you information and advice on how to minimize the chances of getting skin cancer again.