Skin Cancer Surgery: A Look At Mohs Surgery And Its Thorough Nature

Skin cancer, also known as melanoma, affects a lot more people than you'd think. There are actually more new cases of skin cancer being reported than breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer; statistics indicate that anywhere from 40% to 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with either basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by the time that they reach the ripe age of 65.

Depending on the type of skin cancer patients are diagnosed with and the amount of risk involved with their case, different types of surgeries and procedures may be recommended as a treatment. Mohs surgery, also referred to as microscopically controlled surgery, is perhaps the most complicated and thorough of them all. This article will give you a better idea of the fundamentals behind Mohs surgery and what to expect.

Back to the Basics

Mohs surgery is one of the most precise surgical techniques that has ever graced the medical industry, and it is commonly used as a treatment for skin cancer when there is a relatively high risk of relapse or when the extent or severity of the cancer is unknown.

The surgeons will remove each layer of the skin, along with a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue. Each layer is examined under a microscope individually for cancerous cells. If there are cancerous cells present, another layer of skin tissue will be removed. This process repeats itself until only cancer-free tissue remains. The excised tissues are stained with special chemicals that will stain cancerous cells. This reduces the risk of cancerous tissues being overlooked.

This type of surgery involves local excision only. As a result, patients only need to be given local anesthetics and can generally be conscious throughout the entire treatment or procedure if they desire. This type of surgical treatment is effective for both BCC and SCC, and as a result is becoming highly recommended by both doctors and surgeons. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Mohs Surgery

While this type of surgery is highly recommended for treating all types of skin cancer, patients should be aware that the treatment does generally take much longer than other alternatives. This is due to the fact that the surgeons must examine the excised layer of tissue under a microscope for cancerous cells each and every time. In addition, this treatment can be relatively expensive due to all of the work that surgeons and physicians must do behind the scenes. These factors appear to be the only drawbacks of Mohs surgery.

There are a lot more advantages than drawbacks. The advantages of this type of treatment include:

  • removal of guesswork. Surgeons no longer need to guess whether enough tissue has been removed, as each layer is being analyzed. Healthy tissues are spared from excision. This technique allows surgeons to better control the size and depth of the excision made.
  • quicker recovery rates. Since most of the healthy tissues are spared from excision and only cancerous patches are removed, recovery rates tend to be quicker, as patients have less recovery to do.
  • higher success rates. This type of surgery will effectively expunge all cancerous skin cancer cells, and has been noted to have cure rates of over 98% for both BCC and SCC, which is a tad higher than other alternative treatments at the moment.
  • better cosmetic results. Since only cancerous tissues are removed, patients typically should not expect much scarring. In fact, some wounds are so shallow that they are similar to small scrapes. 
  • enhanced safety. As mentioned above, the surgeons can better tailor the size and the depth of the excisions that are being made; this decreases the overall safety risks involved with the procedure. Most patients do not experience any form or type of complications related to the surgery.


While Mohs surgery is a suitable technique for any type of skin cancer, it is generally only recommended to patients when recurrent cancers may be an issue. For cases where the cancerous cells are not yet aggressive or have only infected a small part of one's body, other treatments may be just as effective, and may be recommended first. For more information about Mohs surgery, contact a clinic like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center.