Mohs surgery is a very specialized and precise way to treat skin cancer while sparing healthy tissue. It is very normal to have questions about the procedure and what it entails. Below, Denver plastic surgeon Michael McCracken answers commonly asked questions about Mohs surgery.
What happens during Mohs surgery?
During the procedure, the doctor removes thin layers of cancerous tissue, and each layer is immediately checked under a microscope for cancerous cells. The doctor continues to work layer by layer until the edges, or margins, of the tissue sample are cancer-free. Mohs surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia that numbs the treatment area completely.
What kind of cancer can Mohs surgery treat?
Mohs surgery is primarily performed to treat the two most common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). There are an estimated 4.3 million cases of BCC diagnosed in this country every year, and more than 1 million cases of SCC. Mohs surgery is very common for cases affecting the head and neck areas.
Is Mohs used to treat all types of skin cancers?
No. For less common cancers like sebaceous carcinoma or melanoma, other methods are better.
Does Dr. McCracken perform Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is a team effort. Normally dermatologists with special fellowship training in the Mohs method of skin cancer excision remove the cancerous tissue; then, pathologists examine the tissue specimens.
Given the delicate anatomy of the eyelids and the surrounding areas, and the important function of these tissues, most Mohs surgeons refer their closures to an eyelid specialist like Dr. McCracken. He is responsible for closing the surgical wound with the goal of preserving or restoring optimal eyelid function. Although function is the most important priority, Dr. McCracken also does his best to leave the smallest, least conspicuous scar possible after Mohs surgery.
What is Dr. McCracken’s experience with Mohs surgery?
Dr. McCracken has performed over 1,000 Mohs repairs around the eyes in his career.
Please visit his photo gallery for examples of his skin cancer reconstruction cases.
What are the benefits of Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is an extremely precise and effective treatment for BCC and SCC. It has high cure rates and low recurrence rates. It also offers extraordinary cosmetic results compared to other skin cancer treatments.
How long does Mohs surgery take?
It is difficult to predict the timeframe in every case, as it depends on how many rounds of tissue removal are needed. Some procedures take several hours.
Are Mohs repairs performed the same day as the excision?
Dr. McCracken usually schedules the Mohs repair the same day or one to two days after the excision. The repair can be done up to about a week after the excision.
Where can I learn more?
If you have been diagnosed with BCC or SCC in your eyelid area and would like more information about Mohs surgery and repair, please contact McCracken Eye and Face Institute today.