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What You Should Know About Mohs Surgery

It’s frightening any time the word “cancer” comes up in a medical appointment. When your diagnosis is skin cancer, you generally have a good prognosis, particularly if the disease is caught in its early stages. Some skin cancers can even be found before the skin changes become cancerous. 

A treatment that minimizes impact on surrounding tissue is called Mohs micrographic surgery. It has a high success rate, always important when cancer is involved, and it can often be performed in such a way as to minimize post-surgical scarring. 

Choosing a doctor skilled with the Mohs process is key to a successful prognosis. Mohs surgery is technically challenging, so working with Jennifer A. Baron, MD, FAAD, FACMS ensures that you’re receiving excellent attention from a Mohs expert. Contact Dr. Baron when you develop suspicious skin lesions. 

The Mohs concept

The Mohs surgery concept was developed in the 1930s at the University of Wisconsin by Dr. Frederic Mohs, who then refined the procedure over the coming decades. 

The innovation that led to the currently used technique was to involve active testing of biopsied tissue, proceeding in shallow layers until all signs of cancerous cells are gone. The visual portion of the tumor is removed, along with a thin portion of skin beneath and around the tumor. That sliver of skin is then immediately tested for the presence of cancer cells. 

If no cancer cells are found in this sample, then the procedure is over. Otherwise, Dr. Baron shaves another thin layer of tissue and examines it. The process continues until a sample with no cancer cells is reached. 

What to expect

Though technically classed as a surgery, the Mohs procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthetic. The pace of the surgery isn’t demanding for you, but it may take some time. Four hours is typical, but due to the cycle of excision and analysis, it can go longer. Typically, patients bring snacks and reading material to keep themselves occupied during the waiting periods. Dr. Baron and her staff will prepare you for this ahead of your procedure. 

Recovery from Mohs surgery

The size and depth of your tumor usually dictates the final portion of your procedure. A small, shallow tumor may heal with only simple bandages and minimal care, while larger excisions may need to be stitched to promote recovery. 

The largest procedures may require skin grafts to minimize scarring and other post-surgical complications. In extreme cases, you may have a temporary closure of the surgical wound for later reconstructive treatment. 

Advantages of Mohs surgery

The most obvious advantage is that you leave the procedure with your results. There’s no waiting for lab tests, since these are performed after each skin sample is taken. Since the tumor is removed completely, there’s no risk of recurrence at that site. Damage to surrounding tissue is minimal. Cosmetic and functional impacts are limited, meaning minimal scarring and the least effect on your ability to move or use a body part. 

While you’ll need to remain diligent about cancer in other locations, Mohs surgery gives you the best chance for a skin cancer cure. Contact Jennifer A. Baron, MD, FAAD, FACMS to learn more about Mohs micrographic surgery and what it can do for you. Call the office to book your appointment today. 

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