Mohs Surgery (cont.)
Nili N. Alai, MD, FAAD
Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS)? Why is the procedure called Mohs?
- Where can I have Mohs surgery, and how long does the surgery take?
- What kind of physician can perform Mohs surgery? Where can I find a doctor board-certified in Mohs?
- Is Mohs only for skin cancer?
- Am I a good candidate for Mohs surgery?
- What if I have artificial joints or other health issues?
- What areas are treatable by Mohs surgery?
- What are possible complications of Mohs?
- What is reconstruction? Will I have a scar?
- What are alternatives for Mohs surgery?
- What about insurance coverage and costs?
- How do I prepare for my surgery?
- How is recovery? Is it painful?
- How do I take care of my surgical area after Mohs surgery?
- What is the chance that my cancer will recur?
- How many "levels" of Mohs will I need?
- How are skin cancers treated?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What areas are treatable by Mohs surgery?
Mohs is used primarily for the treatment of head and neck basal and squamous cell skin cancers. It is particularly useful for skin cancers in difficult areas such as nose, lips, and ears.
It is also used on hands and feet where there is not a lot of extra tissue for bigger surgical removals. Mohs is very effective for the treatment of recurrent tumors (tumors that were previously removed and have regrown at the same site). However, depending on the specific patient and tumor type, any area of the body may be treated by Mohs surgery.
What are possible complications of Mohs?
As with any surgery or procedure, Mohs is associated with possible risks and complications. While it is overall a very safe and effective surgical treatment, there are some possible uncommon complications. Since a scar forms anytime you cut the skin, most patients understand and can expect some type of a scar after skin-cancer removal.
Possible risks and complications of Mohs include (but are not limited to) bleeding, bruising, wound infection, pain, unsightly scar, keloid (raised, thick scar), cosmetic disfigurement, skin discoloration, nerve damage, allergic reactions, pain, reaction to local anesthesia, wound opening (dehiscence) and splitting or retained stitches, cancer recurrence, need for further surgery or treatment including radiation or plastic surgery, and very rarely death.
Minor, serious, or life-threatening reactions can occur with the use of anesthetics or with medications given before, after, or during surgery. Nerves controlling muscle movement, sensation, or other functions may be damaged. This nerve damage may be permanent. Overall, most patients tolerate the surgery very well without any complications.
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