Mohs Surgery

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Cancer 101 Slideshow Pictures

Is Mohs only for skin cancer?

Yes, Mohs is a widely used method of surgically removing the most common types of skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is currently not used to remove noncancerous growths. Less frequently, Mohs may also be used for other malignant tumors. In special cases, Mohs may be used to surgically treat malignant melanoma, lentigo maligna, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, Merkel cell carcinoma, microcystic adnexal carcinoma, malignant trichoepithelioma, angiosarcoma, atypical fibroxanthoma, and other cancerous skin tumors. However, most Mohs surgeons treat primarily basal and squamous cell cancers by this technique.

Am I a good candidate for Mohs surgery?

You may not be a good candidate for Mohs if you are unable to tolerate local anesthesia, have extreme anxiety, have a surgical phobia, or are in very poor health.

Your decision on the best treatment choice may depend on different factors such as the location and type of skin cancer, your past treatments, your overall health, and level of comfort with the procedure. Your physician can help you sort through the different treatments and assist in your shared decision-making process. However, the right decision for you is always yours and your doctor's to make.

What if I have artificial joints or other health issues?

Your Mohs surgeon needs to know of any underlying medical conditions that may affect your surgery or wound healing. You would want to be certain to tell your surgeon beforehand if you have any artificial parts (implants) like knees or hips, a pacemaker or defibrillator, or need to take antibiotics before dental procedures because of a heart condition or murmur.

Your Mohs surgeon needs to know if you have had a history of staph or other skin infections in the recent past. You may be asked to wash with a special antibiotic soap or wash like chlorhexidine (Hibiclens) the night or morning before surgery to help reduce the number of bacteria on your skin.

Patients need to also advise their surgeon of any drug allergies to anesthetics like lidocaine (Xylocaine) or novocaine. Additionally, the surgeon may need to know of any bleeding or bruising tendencies, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, or pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/8/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Cancer Report Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Mohs Surgery - Experience

    Did you undergo Mohs surgery? Please share your experience.

    Post View 18 Comments
  • Mohs Surgery - Scars

    Did your surgery result in a scar? Please describe your experience.

    Post View 11 Comments
  • Mohs Surgery - Recovery Time

    What was the recovery time for your Mohs procedure?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors