Preparing for Mohs Surgery? Here's What You Need to Know

Preparing for Mohs Surgery? Here's What You Need to Know

If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, you’re among one of nearly 10,000 Americans who receive the same diagnosis every single day. 

Learning you have any type of cancer is never easy. Fortunately, when it comes to skin cancer, an advanced surgical technique called Mohs micrographic surgery offers the highest success rates. If you’re preparing for this procedure, Jeffrey Klein, MDDr. Norma Kassardjian, and Dr. Joshua Spanogle want to help you prepare so you feel confident about your treatment. All three providers are Board Certified in Mohs Surgery.

At HK Dermatology in San Juan Capistrano, California, our experienced team of providers primarily use Mohs surgery to treat the most common forms of skin cancers: squamous and basal cell carcinomas. In some cases, our team may recommend Mohs surgery to treat other types of skin cancer, like melanoma. 

Regardless of the type of skin cancer, Mohs surgery works in the same way. As you prepare for your appointment, take a moment to learn what you need to know.

Understanding Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery is a specialized surgical procedure that allows your provider to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible while removing the cancerous portions. To do this, our team “maps” your cancer by painlessly excising the cancerous cells one precise, thin layer at a time.

During your surgery, our team examines the areas around the visible skin cancer, called “margins.” That enables us to remove cancerous skin tissues with precision. Then, we prepare the removed sample for study in our on-site laboratory. 

By looking at the tissue under a microscope, our team makes an exact map of your skin cancer, which often extends into deeper layers of your skin. We repeat this process until we identify and remove all cancer cells. 

You’re left with only healthy skin tissue, and you are rewarded with cancer-free skin, less scarring, and the peace of mind knowing all the cancerous cells at that site are eliminated instead of having to wait for lab results.

Additional benefits of Mohs surgery compared to other skin cancer treatments include:

These benefits make Mohs surgery an excellent option for people with skin cancer in highly visible locations, like the face, neck, hands, head, and hairline. 

What to expect after Mohs surgery

After your Mohs surgery, our team gives you detailed post-procedure instructions. Keep in mind that everyone’s Mohs surgery is slightly different based on the location and size of their cancer, and how much tissue was removed.

Some people require stitches or sutures, while others may only need a bandage. Significant removal of tissue may mean you require reconstructive surgery. 

Most of the time, any minor pain or discomfort responds well to over-the-counter acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Following your procedure, it’s normal to have some mild swelling, bruising, bleeding, or oozing at the incision site. Full recovery time depends on how much tissue was removed, your age, overall health, and other factors. 

Generally, sutures get removed 5-10 days after your surgery. Most people return to normal activities the day after their procedure, though our team may recommend avoiding bending, heavy lifting, or vigorous exercise for several days to minimize the risk of bleeding or opening the wound. 

In the weeks after your Mohs surgery, you might find a small area around the incision site is numb to the touch. This happens because small nerve endings can get damaged during tissue excision. This numbness usually resolves after several weeks or months, but in some rare cases, can be permanent.

Have more questions about Mohs surgery? Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at HK Dermatology in San Juan Capistrano, California.

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