Facts About Mohs Surgery For Patients

If you have skin cancer, a surgical procedure will allow your dermatologist to remove cancer from your body. Mohs surgery is widely regarded as one of the most effective skin cancer surgeries available. It enables dermatologists to precisely excise cancer while doing minimal damage to the surrounding tissue. Here are four things patients should know when going in for Mohs surgery:

1. The procedure may consume the majority of your day.

The amount of time Mohs surgery takes will vary, depending on the extent of the cancer present in your skin. The procedure will take longer than other types of excision surgery since your doctor will only remove a small layer of tissue at a time. The removed tissue will be sent to a lab for analysis, and the process will be repeated until the last analyzed sample is found to be cancer-free. Your Mohs surgery may take a few hours, so plan to spend most of your day at the dermatologist's office.

2. The operation may leave a scar.

Your dermatologist will make every effort to leave as much of your skin undisturbed as possible. However, they cannot control the amount of tissue that must be removed. If your cancer is extensive, you will likely experience some scarring. However, Mohs surgery often leaves a smaller scar than more aggressive types of excision surgery. Many patients find that the scar left from Mohs surgery isn't particularly troublesome. Still, if you're worried about the appearance of scarring, your dermatologist can recommend scar-reducing cream and even refer you to a plastic surgeon.

3. The surgery does not require full sedation.

General anesthesia is used to put patients to sleep before major surgery. However, when you go general anesthesia, there are risks due to the suppression of your nervous system. Fortunately, Mohs surgery can be performed with numbing injections instead. You will be comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure without being put to sleep.

4. The procedure may not be able to remove all your skin cancer.

Mohs surgery can remove all the skin cancer present on and below the surface of your skin. However, some people experience skin cancer that travels to other parts of their bodies. If your cancer has metastasized into your lymph nodes, your dermatologist will not be able to remove it all surgically. There is still hope for your full recovery, but additional treatments will be required. Metastatic skin cancer can be treated using targeted radiation therapy alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy.