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What Happens During Mohs Surgery?

Jan 24, 2018

If your dermatologist determines that you have skin cancer, he or she may recommend Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery is recognized as an effective skin cancer treatment for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which are the most common forms of the disease. During Mohs surgery, your provider can remove all of the cancerous cells, so that they are unable to develop and spread. If Mohs surgery is recommended for your skin cancer treatment, here is a look at what you can expect.


After deciding if you need to change into a hospital gown to provide access to the surgical site or if you can stay in your normal clothing, your provider will mark the treatment area and then numb it using a local anesthesia. There is no need for more extensive anesthesia, and aside from the potential for some minor discomfort during the anesthesia injection, the entire procedure will be painless. The doctor will also explain where he or she plans to cut and what you should expect before beginning the surgery.

Tissue Removal

Once your skin is numb, the surgeon will remove a thin layer of tissue where the cancer is located. That tissue will then be sliced into even smaller layers in a lab, and each layer will be viewed under a microscope. If the bottom layer of tissue is cancer-free, your surgeon will not need to remove any more tissue. If there are still cancerous cells in the tissue, then your surgeon will return and remove another layer of tissue. This process will be repeated until there are no longer cancer cells in the tissue that is removed. This could take several hours, depending on how deep the cancer cells are in the tissue. Your surgeon will administer additional anesthesia as needed.

Wound Care

In some cases, your surgeon will close the wound with stitches. In other cases, it may be left open. If a significant amount of skin was removed, you may be referred to a plastic surgeon, who will repair the area using skin from another site.

Early diagnosis is key to effective skin cancer treatment, so make an appointment with a dermatologist in Arlington Heights at Arlington Dermatology if you have a suspicious spot on your skin. For an appointment, please call us at [company-phone id=1].

doctor examining patient