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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Mohs micrographic surgery take?

Total removal of a skin cancer, which may involve several surgical stages, is usually completed in one day. After the surgery, a decision is made as to the best way to manage the wound created by the surgery.

How effective is Mohs micrographic surgery?

Using the Mohs micrographic surgical technique, the percentage of success is very high, often 95% to 99%, even if other forms of treatment have failed. Therefore, with this technique, an excellent chance of cure is achieved. However, no one can guarantee a 100% chance of cure.

Will the surgery leave a scar?

Yes. Most forms of therapy will leave a scar. However, the Mohs micrographic surgical procedure tends to minimize this as much as possible. After the wound is healed, you may wish to have the scar improved. Generally, time alone will improve all scars.

What are the advantages of Mohs micrographic surgery?

After the initial tissue is removed, the surgeon can pinpoint with the microscope the areas where there is cancer and then selectively remove tissue only from those areas in the following surgical stages. In this way, the skin cancer is traced out to its roots with little guesswork involved, which results in:

1.      The removal of as little normal tissue as possible.

2.      The highest chance of curing the patient (under certain circumstances).

What are the disadvantages?

When we have determined that the skin cancer has been completely removed, a decision is made about what to do with the wound created by the surgery. Usually, there are two choices:

  1. To let the wound heal by itself ("granulation").
  2. To repair (close) the wound with stitches (either by bringing the wound edges together, or with a skin flap or skin graft).

What happens if I do not have my skin cancer treated?

All types of skin cancer will grow and invade nearby tissue. How fast a skin cancer will grow is unpredictable and varies from person to person. Sometimes skin cancer will destroy important structures such as the nose, lip, or eye. Occasionally, skin cancers can be life threatening.

How can I learn more?

Talk with your primary care physician or dermatologist for a referral, or schedule a consultation with one of our Mohs Surgeons by calling (414) 326-1514.

How does Mohs Micrographic Surgery differ from other cancer removal procedures?

During Mohs micrographic surgery, the tissue is examined in a different and more thorough manner than is typically performed by a pathologist associated with an operating room. By visualizing "frozen sections", Mohs Micrographic Surgery examines the entire sides and undersurface of the excised tissue. For example if one looks at a loaf of bread, Mohs Micrographic Surgery examines the whole crust rather than a few slices of the loaf.