Surgical Dermatology: Are You a Good Candidate for Mohs Surgery?

Woman's nose with a mole Surgical Dermatology: Are You a Good Candidate for Mohs Surgery?

Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a long-practiced procedure for removing melanoma and other skin cancers when other surgeries won’t cut it. But not every instance of skin cancer requires Mohs surgery, so understanding your options is one way to make the experience of a skin cancer diagnosis easier to cope with.

What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs Micrographic Surgery dates back to the early 20th century, and was named for its inventor, Dr. Frederick Mohs. The benefits of Mohs surgery have not been eclipsed in over 80 years by modern technologies like laser therapy. Mohs effectively treats melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, to a lesser extent. But make no mistake, Mohs was made with melanoma in mind, and it treats this cancer incredibly well. The success rate of Mohs surgery in melanoma that is detected early is extremely high.

How Does Mohs Surgery Work?

Mohs surgery is a straightforward process that starts with a diagnosis. Once your skin lesion is determined to be melanoma, your dermatologist will almost always recommend Mohs immediately. One major benefit of Mohs surgery is that it can be performed on an outpatient basis, by a Mohs-certified dermatologist in their office, rather than an operating room. Mohs doesn’t require general anesthesia, so you won’t need to go under for the treatment. Rather, local anesthesia is all that’s necessary for the procedure to get underway.

The first step in Mohs surgery is for your doctor to remove the top most layer of the cancerous lesion and examine it under a microscope for signs of cancer. They will then proceed to the next layer of skin and repeat the process. This continues until no signs of cancerous cells show up on the removed skin. Mohs surgery can take a few hours to multiple days, depending on the size and depth of the skin cancer. Recovering after Mohs surgery is not nearly as difficult as other surgical skin cancer treatments because you aren’t put under anesthesia. Additionally, the total amount of skin removed is reduced because of the process’ precision. Stitches are often necessary to help prevent a scar, but in general there is little wound care needed beyond changing bandages in the first few days. You may be put on antibiotics before and after the surgery to prevent infection. Beyond that, Mohs surgery often leaves patients cancer-free, without many side effects.

Are You a Good Candidate for Mohs Surgery?

While Mohs surgery can be used on other forms of skin cancer, the best candidates for Mohs are people who were very recently diagnosed with early-stage melanoma. If melanoma has had time to spread from the skin to other bodily systems, the necessary treatment can be far more complex. If you’re over the age of 35, getting yearly cancer screenings and performing self-exams for skin cancer are very important. Detected early, melanoma is no match for Mohs surgery. If you are determined to be at high risk for melanoma or other skin cancers, you may need screenings from a professional more than once in a year.

Mohs surgery can work on almost any part of the body, but it’s occasionally the only option if skin cancer develops on thin skin. Places like the nose, eyelid and lip are all extremely sensitive and require the precision that only Mohs surgery can offer. It’s hard to narrate exactly how precise and effective Mohs is, and how little skin needs to be excised during treatment. The fact that it’s used for such sensitive, thin areas of skin is a testament to how well it can work for your specific condition. In the end, Mohs surgery works best for people with newly diagnosed melanoma. If melanoma or other cancerous lesions are growing on thin or delicate areas of skin, Mohs surgery might be the only option besides total surgical excision. Mohs surgery is right for a lot of people, and its success stories speak volumes.

Mohs surgery has endured through time because it’s so incredibly effective. If you think Mohs surgery might be right for you, call the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.

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