What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is a highly specialized surgical technique primarily used for the treatment of skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Named after Dr. Frederic Mohs, who developed the procedure in the 1930s, Mohs surgery involves the systematic removal of thin layers of cancerous tissue while sparing healthy surrounding skin. Each layer is examined under a microscope in real-time until no cancer cells remain, ensuring the highest cure rates and minimal damage to healthy tissue. This meticulous approach makes Mohs surgery especially effective for tumors with indistinct borders, high recurrence rates, or located in cosmetically sensitive areas.

How do you prepare for Mohs Surgery?

Preparing for Mohs surgery typically involves a comprehensive consultation with your dermatologist or surgeon to discuss your medical history, current medications, and any allergies. Your healthcare provider may advise you to discontinue certain medications that could increase bleeding risk, such as blood thinners, and to refrain from smoking to promote optimal healing. It’s essential to follow any preoperative instructions provided, which may include fasting before the procedure and arranging for transportation home afterward, as Mohs surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia.

Why is Mohs Surgery performed?

Mohs surgery is performed primarily to treat skin cancer, particularly cases where the tumor is large, aggressive, or located in cosmetically sensitive areas such as the face, ears, or hands. It offers the highest cure rates for skin cancer while minimizing the removal of healthy tissue, which is crucial for preserving function and aesthetics, especially in delicate areas. Mohs surgery is ideal for tumors with ill-defined borders or those that have recurred after previous treatment, ensuring thorough removal of cancerous cells while maximizing cosmetic outcomes.

What can you expect during Mohs Surgery?

During Mohs surgery, patients typically receive local anesthesia to numb the treatment area, ensuring minimal discomfort throughout the procedure. The surgeon then removes thin layers of skin containing cancerous cells, examining each layer under a microscope in an on-site laboratory. This process is repeated until no cancer cells remain, often completed within the same day. After complete removal of the tumor, the wound may be closed with stitches or allowed to heal naturally, depending on its size and location. Mohs surgery is known for its high precision and excellent cosmetic outcomes, with minimal scarring compared to traditional excision methods.

At Upper West Side Dermatology, our Mohs surgeons are dedicated to providing the best care and making our patients feel comfortable throughout the treatment process. We pride ourselves in being one of the best mohs clinics in New York City.

What is the followup and recovery like for Mohs Surgery?

Following a Mohs surgical procedure, patients can expect some swelling, bruising, and discomfort at the surgical site, which typically subside within a few days. Depending on the size and location of the wound, stitches may be removed within one to two weeks. It’s essential to follow postoperative care instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as keeping the surgical area clean and dry, applying prescribed ointments or dressings, and avoiding activities that could strain the wound. Regular follow-up appointments are crucial to monitor healing progress, address any concerns, and ensure the best possible cosmetic outcome.

What are the potential costs for Mohs Surgery?

The cost of Mohs surgery can vary depending on factors such as the size and location of the tumor, the complexity of the procedure, and the surgeon’s expertise. It may include fees for preoperative consultations, anesthesia, pathology analysis, and postoperative care. Patients are encouraged to inquire about insurance coverage and payment options with their healthcare provider and insurance company to understand their specific financial responsibilities. While Mohs surgery may be more expensive than traditional excision methods, its high cure rates and superior cosmetic outcomes make it a cost-effective option for many patients in the long term.

What are the potential risks for Mohs Surgery?

Although Mohs surgery is considered safe and highly effective, like any surgical procedure, it carries some inherent risks. These may include bleeding, infection, allergic reactions to anesthesia or medications, nerve damage, and rarely, recurrence of the cancer. However, complications are relatively rare, especially when performed by experienced dermatologists or surgeons in accredited facilities. Patients can minimize risks by carefully following pre- and postoperative instructions provided by their healthcare provider and promptly reporting any unusual symptoms or concerns during the recovery period.

Are there related procedures to Mohs Surgery?

Several related procedures may be considered depending on the type, size, and location of the skin cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health and preferences. These may include traditional excisional surgery, cryotherapy (freezing the cancer cells), curettage and electrodesiccation (scraping and burning the cancer cells), radiation therapy, topical treatments, and laser therapy. Your dermatologist will recommend the most appropriate treatment approach based on a thorough evaluation of your condition and individual needs, ensuring the best possible outcome in managing skin cancer.

If you are looking for a Mohs dermatologist near you, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Meet Upper West Side Derm

Dr. Sarah Yagerman is a double board-certified dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon. She practices medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology in NYC and has a special interest in dermatologic oncology. A skilled, caring practitioner, she believes in an individualized and holistic approach to each patient and... Learn More »