Mohs micrographic surgery is one of the most successful treatments for skin cancer, with a cure rate of 98%. In this technique, a surgeon surgically removes a layer of the infected tissue with a scalpel and examines it under a microscope to look for the presence of cancer cells. If cancer cells are detected, the surgeon returns to the patient and removes another layer for examination. This procedure continues until no more cancer cells are found in the examined tissue.
Although the procedure is quite simple, let’s go over what you can expect before, during, and after the procedure.
Before you step into the operating room, your doctor will make sure you are fully prepared, both physically and emotionally. You may be asked to avoid certain medications like blood thinners or specific antibiotics (this may include typical painkillers like Tylenol). Also, be sure to avoid alcohol several days before the procedure. Depending on your lifestyle, you may also be asked to avoid other substances or adhere to dietary restrictions.
Keep in mind that the procedure may be time-consuming. You may want to bring a book or another item to keep you entertained while you wait for your samples to be evaluated.
It’s important to mention that Mohs surgery is not typically painful nor exhausting. In other words, there’s no need to stress about this type of procedure.
When the doctor begins, he or she will inject a local anesthetic in the area to be worked on. Using a scalpel, they will remove a layer of the cancerous tissue. This portion takes only a few minutes to complete. The layer of tissue will be taken to a lab onsite where it will be examined under a microscope for cancer cells. This process can take up to one to two hours. If your sample is cleared of cancer cells, you’ll prepare to go home. If you haven’t been cleared, the doctor will come back and remove another layer, repeating the examination process.
When you are cleared, depending on the size of the wound, your doctor may stitch it closed. However, the wound is typically not large and is often left open.
You will likely be given instructions regarding how to care for your wound and things you should avoid. Most times, patients are recommended to avoid exercise or strenuous work for a day or two simply to ensure the speedy healing of the wound. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the area for signs of infection. If the wound becomes discolored or starts to ooze or have a foul odor, contact your doctor immediately.
While there aren’t usually too many side effects to be concerned about, bruising and swelling may appear. If the area is sore, feel free to use a cold compress to reduce pain. If your doctor agrees, you may be able to take painkillers.
The most important thing to do after your surgery is to follow the doctor's orders. Don’t take unnecessary risks.
If you believe that Mohs surgery is right for you, contact our experts at The Dermatology Group and book a consultation. If you’re in Cincinnati, Ohio or a surrounding city, we can provide treatment as well as advice, tips, and resources. Call us today.