Mohs Surgery for Skin Cancer

What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery, also referred to as Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS), is a special skin cancer removal technique.

The Mohs surgeon employs their skin surgery and pathology skills to ensure that the skin cancer has been completely removed.

Mohs micrographic surgery is considered the most effective technique for treating the two most common types of cancers, basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) with BCC’s being the most common skin cancers treated by this technique.

Mohs micrographic surgery has increased in popularity due to its high cure rates (99%), low recurrence rates and also offers the best cosmetic results of any skin cancer treatment.

What happens during Mohs Surgery?

Mohs skin cancer surgery is usually performed as a day case procedure in the clinic, which means there is no need to stay in the hospital overnight. A Mohs micrographic surgery unit will have an on-site surgical suite/s and a laboratory for microscopic examination of tissue. Surgery is completed the same day, depending on the extent of the tumour and complexity of reconstruction necessary.

We use local anaesthetic around the target area, which means you will be awake during the entire procedure. The use of local anaesthetic versus general anaesthetic provides numerous benefits, including preventing a lengthy recovery and possible side effects from the general anaesthetic. You are completely numb in the area of the surgery, though, so the procedure is painless after the initial injections have been administered.

During the surgery, small layers of cancerous tissue are removed and after each removal of tissue, the tissue is examined for cancer cells while the patient waits. During this examination, if the surgeon sees evidence of cancer around the outer edges of the removed tissue, they will remove another small layer of tissue from the area where the cancer was detected. This ensures that only cancerous tissue is removed during the procedure, this minimises the loss of healthy tissue and reduces the risk of leaving behind unnecessary scarring in the treatment area.

How long does Mohs surgery take? 

Mohs surgery takes several hours. Because no one can tell how long it will be to achieve clearance of cancerous tissue, we ask you to be prepared to stay with us the whole day (09:00-18:00).

What are the benefits of Mohs surgery? 

Mohs surgery is different from other forms of surgery in that it allows the immediate and complete microscope examination of the specimen. It is not possible for a surgeon to see the roots of a skin cancer under the skin surface without a microscope. 
Mohs surgery gives the best chance of cure for non-melanoma skin cancers compared to all other treatments- even if the skin cancer has grown back following previous treatment. 
Mohs surgery is also very valuable for preserving normal skin around important sites such as the nose, lips, eyes or ears and keeping the wound as small as possible. 

Is Mohs Surgery right for me?

Mohs Surgery is more commonly used in patients where the area being treated is on the face or neck. Highly visible areas are considered cosmetically important and because Mohs Surgery limits the damage to healthy tissue and skin, it is often considered an ideal treatment in these cases.

This type of surgery may also be used to recurring cases of skin cancers.