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How Does Mohs Surgery Work?

If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, getting the most effective available treatment is probably at the top of your priority list. Ask most any expert what that treatment entails and they’re likely to recommend Mohs surgery

Developed by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs in the 1930s, Mohs surgery has become one of the most relied upon and successful skin cancer treatments. But how does it actually work?

As a Mohs dermatologic surgeon and skin cancer specialist, Ali Hendi, MD, has performed more than 14,000 Mohs procedures in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas. 

Here’s a closer look at Mohs surgery, including how it helps and what to expect during and after. 

Why you might need Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery treats numerous types of skin cancer, including the most common forms, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and the most dangerous form, melanoma

Because of its remarkable precision, Mohs procedures are considered the gold standard treatment for especially risky cancers, such as those with aggressive growth patterns or those located on your neck or head.

How Mohs surgery works

Unlike other skin cancer treatments that remove an entire mole — and sometimes surrounding tissue — at once, Mohs surgery removes cancerous tissue one thin layer at a time. Each layer is examined closely under a microscope to make sure you’re left with no cancerous cells. Only when cancer-free tissue appears does the surgery end.

At that point, depending on your health, safety, and the best aesthetic outcome, Dr. Hendi will stitch the skin opening closed, close it with a flap or graft, or leave it open. In all, your procedure, including the lab analysis in between, may take several hours or more. And you’ll be awake and alert the whole time, with the surgical area fully numbed.

If you have a particularly large skin cancer, you may require reconstructive surgery after Mohs surgery. In many cases, both procedures are performed on the same day. 

You may experience mild pain after Mohs surgery, which tends to resolve on its own within a few hours. Any scarring may take 12-18 months to diminish. 

Mohs surgery results

Mohs surgery is increasingly popular because of its meticulous nature and success. Compared to other skin cancer treatments, it brings the lowest recurrence rates, the highest cure rates (up to 99%), and the best cosmetic results.

Still, once you’ve had skin cancer, your chances of additional skin cancer of almost any kind are heightened. For that reason, we’ll likely recommend skin cancer surveillance moving forward. Routine full-body skin scans help ensure early detection of any additional cancer. And early detection makes way for noninvasive and successful treatment.

To learn more about Mohs surgery or to get the skin cancer treatment you need, call 301-812-4591 or book an appointment online with the practice of Ali Hendi, MD, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, today.

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