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Mohs micrographic surgery

Skin cancer - Mohs surgery; Basal cell skin cancer - Mohs surgery; Squamous cell skin cancer - Mohs surgery; Melanoma - Mohs surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery is a way to treat and cure certain skin cancers. Surgeons trained in the Mohs procedure can do this surgery. It allows skin cancer to be removed with less damage to the healthy skin around it.

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Description

Mohs surgery usually takes place in the doctor's office. The surgery is started early in the morning and is done in one day. Sometimes if the tumor is big or you need reconstruction, it may take two visits.

During the procedure, the surgeon removes the cancer in layers until all the cancer has been removed. The surgeon will:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Mohs surgery can be used for most skin cancers, such as basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers.

Mohs surgery may be preferred when the skin cancer is on an area where:

Mohs surgery may also be preferred when:

Risks

Mohs surgery is generally safe. With Mohs surgery, you do not need to be put asleep (general anesthesia) as you would with other surgeries.

While rare, these are some risks for this surgery:

Before the Procedure

Your doctor will explain what you should do to prepare for your surgery. You may be asked to:

After the Procedure

Taking proper care of your wound after surgery will help your skin look its best. Your doctor will talk with you about your options:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Mohs surgery has a 99% cure rate in treating skin cancer.

With this surgery, the smallest amount of tissue possible is removed. You will have a smaller scar than you might have with other treatment options.

References

Ad Hoc Task Force, Connolly SM, Baker DR, et al. AAD/ACMS/ASDSA/ASMS 2012 appropriate use criteria for Mohs micrographic surgery: a report of the American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Mohs Surgery, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, and the American Society for Mohs Surgery. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;67(4):531-550. PMID: 22959232 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22959232.

American College of Mohs Surgery website. The Mohs step-by-step process. www.mohscollege.org/for-patients/about-mohs-surgery/the-mohs-step-by-step-process. Updated March 2, 2017. Accessed Mar 2, 2021.

Lam C, Vidimos AT. Mohs micrographic surgery. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 150.

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Review Date: 11/4/2020  

Reviewed By: Elika Hoss, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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