Mohs micrographic surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery is a surgical technique used to treat certain skin cancers.

Do I need this procedure?

Mohs micrographic isn’t suitable for all cases of skin cancers. Sometimes, particularly if malignant melanoma is diagnosed or suspected, it might be necessary to remove slightly more surrounding tissue, to reduce the likelihood of the cancer spreading and further treatment being needed. Our expert dermatologists will be able to advise on the best course of treatment for you.

The procedure

The procedure involves carefully removing very thin layers of skin from the site being treated, one at a time. Each layer is immediately examined in a lab to check whether it contains cancer cells. If cancer cells are detected, another layer of skin is removed – and the process continues until there are no further cancer cells detected.

There are a number of benefits to the technique. Mohs micrographic surgery enables dermatologists to perform a very precise removal, which limits the amount of surrounding healthy tissue that’s lost and minimises scarring compared with other procedures. This makes it particularly useful for treating facial skin cancers, especially basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

It’s usually carried out with local anaesthetic, meaning the area being treated will be numbed first so you shouldn’t feel any pain. However, since the process involves immediate lab analysis and potentially a few layers of skin being removed, it can take considerably longer than other lesion removals, so you may spend around half a day in hospital. Afterwards, a dressing will be applied to the wound, which can usually be removed after 24-48 hours or so. Your consultant will be able to advise on individual aftercare and when to return to work, and the area may feel bruised and sore for a few days. But recovery from Mohs micrographic surgery is generally very quick and straightforward.

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