Mohs Surgery

 Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized method for the removal of skin cancer that is named after the surgeon who originated the technique, Dr. Frederic Mohs. Mohs surgery is the most effective treatment for skin cancer available currently. It offers the highest potential for cure for most skin cancers – up to a 99% success rate. Mohs surgery achieves this high cure rate because the cancer is removed with precision while healthy skin and tissue are spared. Your site will be marked and numbed with a local anesthetic. Your surgeon will remove a disc of tissue around your tumor; this process is called a “stage”. The tissue sample is processed in the lab and your surgeon reviews the slides to see if any cancer remains. If cancer is still present, an additional sample will be removed from that area (a second stage), processed in the lab, and reviewed by your surgeon. The process continues like that in stages until all the cancer is clear. Some surgeries may take only one stage while others will take multiple stages.

How long will my surgery take?

We cannot predict exactly how long a Mohs surgery will take because each case varies based on its size, location, and complexity. The minimum amount of time is about 3 hours, but we ask that you plan to reserve the entire day to be at the office. The surgery only takes a portion of that time, and you will spend a large amount of the time waiting for your results.

What should I bring with me on the day of my surgery?

Bring lunch, drinks, and snacks. Bring all of the medications you would usually take during the day plus acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) to take for pain. If you get cold easily, bring a blanket and coat. Bring a book or iPad for entertainment if you like

Who should I bring with me on the day of my surgery?

We recommend that you bring another trusted adult with you to drive after your surgery, especially if your surgery site is on your face. This is because you may be uncomfortable and have a large bandage which may block some of your vision or make it so that you cannot wear glasses. A driver is REQUIRED for all eye cases.

Am I allowed to eat before Mohs surgery?

Yes, you are allowed to eat normally prior to and during your Mohs surgery as well as take all of your medications as previously prescribed. If your repair is being performed by another surgeon (like an eye plastic surgeon or oculoplastic surgeon) after your Mohs surgery, they will give you additional instructions on when to stop eating or drinking prior to the repair surgery.

How should I prepare my surgical site?

Do not shave the area on the day before or day of your Mohs surgery. If any additional hair removal around the surgical site is needed, your nurse will do it on the day of your surgery. Do not wear makeup or apply lotion to your surgical site on the day of your surgery. Please remove any jewelry in or around your surgical site.

What kind of activity restrictions can I expect to have after my Mohs surgery?

For the first 2 days after surgery, please plan to rest and allow your bandage to stay on without getting it wet. You will still be able to do required activities of daily living (i.e., walk to the bathroom, eat, dress yourself) but you cannot shower or bathe during that time. For the first 1-2 weeks after surgery, we usually recommend that you do not lift anything greater than 10 pounds or engage in strenuous exercise. We also do not recommend that you plan any long-distance trips within the first 1-2 weeks after your surgery and avoid submerging your site for 2 weeks (this includes bathtubs, pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes, ocean, etc.).

What supplies will I need after my surgery?

Purchase acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and bring with you on the day of your surgery. Also purchase large Telfa pads (non-stick dressings) and surgical tape to bandage your wound after surgery

What will my scar look like after surgery?

Just as it is impossible to predict exactly how long your surgery will take, we cannot predict the size or shape of your scar in advance. Once your tumor is cleared, your surgeon will discuss multiple options with you including allowing the site to heal naturally without further surgery, linear closure, a flap, a graft, or some combination of those options.

What if I have other questions not listed on this sheet?

You will get a call from the Mohs surgery team when it is time to schedule your appointment. They will go over additional information with you, and you will have the opportunity to ask any other questions you may have.