Mohs micrographic surgery is named after its pioneer Dr. Frederic Mohs, a general surgeon with an interest in skin cancer. It is the best method to evaluate the completeness of tumor removal, allowing one to most accurately say that the tumor has been completely removed. Thus, it is considered the gold standard in skin cancer treatment for many tumors, offering the highest cure rates available. To perform the procedure, the physician must be both the surgeon (remove the tumor) and the pathologist (interpret the microscope slides for residual tumor).
Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure performed in the office and you will return home the same day. Upon arrival, the skin cancer and surrounding area will be numbed using local anesthesia similar to that given by a dentist. The skin cancer and a thin layer of surrounding tissue are removed, taking only a few minutes. Next, you will have a temporary bandage placed while the tissue is taken to the lab for processing, the lengthiest portion of the procedure. After approximately one hour of processing time, if there any remaining cancer cells, or “roots”, you will return to have another layer taken. This process repeats until we are satisfied that all tumor has been removed.
The most difficult part of the procedure for patients is waiting for results from the laboratory. Although we would like your time with us to be as pleasant as possible, the laboratory process cannot be sped up, as it is an important component of the process. During the waiting period, you are free to read, eat, or whatever you would like, as long as you are available when the laboratory portion of the procedure is completed. As there is no way to know in advance how long your particular case may take, it is best to not schedule other appointments for the day of your surgery.