Large scars used to be an unfortunate consequence of surgery to remove skin cancers. Luckily, innovative micrographic surgery techniques have reduced the amount of tissue that must be removed and decreased scarring. Edina, MN, dermatologist Dr. Whitney Tope of Academic Dermatology discusses the Mohs micrographic surgery process.
What is Mohs surgery?
During traditional skin cancer surgery, a margin of healthy skin is also removed to ensure that no cancer cells remain. Unfortunately, removing larger or deeper areas of skin can cause significant scarring. During Mohs micrographic surgery, only one layer of skin is removed at a time. While you relax in our Edina office, we study the tissue under a microscope. If we see cancerous cells, we remove another layer and place it under the microscope. The process continues until there are no cancerous cells remaining.
What are the advantages of Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery offers these advantages:
- Less scarring and fewer concerns about appearance after surgery
- Preservation of healthy skin around the skin cancer
- Improved accuracy
- Only local anesthesia is needed
- Treated area heals completely in two to four weeks
When is Mohs surgery recommended?
Mohs surgery is most often used to treat squamous and basal cell cancers. In some cases, it's also a good option for melanomas.
What happens when I arrive for my appointment?
Your skin will be cleaned and numbed with a topical anesthetic before your procedure begins. Once we're sure that you can't feel a thing, we'll begin removing skin layer by layer. Although stitches aren't necessary if we only need to remove a few layers, they will be required if the cancerous area was large or deep. In some cases, skin grafts may also be needed to improve the appearance of the treated area. Before you leave the office, you'll receive instructions that will help you care for your skin while it heals. Post-procedure pain usually is mild and can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers.
Are you worried that a new spot or a change in a mole may be a sign that you have skin cancer? Call Edina, MN, dermatologist Dr. Whitney Tope of Academic Dermatology at (952) 746-6090 to schedule an appointment.