Mohs micrographic surgery is ideal if skin cancer is discovered in a spot that is cosmetically important to you, such as on your face. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas respond well to the Mohs surgery procedure, leaving very little in the way of a Mohs surgery scar, leading to rapid Mohs surgery recovery when performed by your Manhattan dermatologist specially trained in the procedure.
As researchers continue to grapple with finding new and better ways to treat cancer, one treatment stands out as one of the most promising tools to fight skin cancer: Mohs micrographic surgery. Though it’s been around since the 1930s, when Dr. Frederick Mohs first introduced the technique, doctors only began to embrace the procedure in the 1990s.
Your Manhattan dermatologist agrees that the Mohs surgery procedure is an exceptional technique that can lead to quick and thorough cancer diagnoses and treatments. Fully trained and extensively experienced at using the in-office skin cancer treatment, your local expert in Mohs surgery is prepared to perform this procedure.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery Explained
Prior to the development of modern Mohs surgical procedure, you had to wait to hear back from a laboratory to find out the results from a skin biopsy. If your doctor removed a piece of an unknown skin lesion, the lab would determine if the skin sample was benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). You also may have had to return for multiple excisions before your doctor could be sure that all the cancerous skin cells were removed.
Mohs surgery eliminates the guesswork in treating skin cancer. Mohs micrographic surgery allows your dermatologist to scrape away tiny slivers of your suspicious growth and, using a simple microscope in the office, determine whether the slice of skin contains residual malignant cancer cells.
The Mohs Surgery Procedure
After numbing the area with local anesthesia, your dermatology specialist removes a thin layer of skin from the growth and from surrounding margins. Viewing it under a microscope, it’s possible to discern if the margins are completely clear of cancer. If so, then that’s the end of the treatment.
If, however, some cancer cells are still present in the surrounding skin, your doctor can scrape away one layer at a time until all the malignant cells are removed. The procedure may take hours in your doctor’s office, but the targeted lesion will be cancer-free by the time you leave. That’s the value of the Mohs surgery procedure.
Modifications for Specific Melanomas
Slow Mohs surgery is a slightly modified version of the breakthrough procedure. It’s primarily used to treat lentigo maligna melanoma, a form of the deadly skin cancer that appears in the epidermis and accounts for about four percent of all melanoma cases. Lentigo maligna melanoma often presents on your neck or face, particularly on your cheeks or nose — the spots where sun damage is most prevalent.
Instead of getting instant results in the office, the slow Mohs surgery, as the name suggests, requires more time. Layers of skin are rushed off to a pathologist for overnight results. The margin-controlled excisions are taken in stages and cosmetic repair is reserved until the final results are in. Slow Mohs surgery is ideal for older patients, who most likely suffer from lentigo maligna melanoma anyway.
Prognosis Is Clear
Mohs surgery melanoma discoveries have led to a 98 percent recovery rate when performed in the early stages of the cancer. While Mohs is not the only treatment available for skin cancer, nor is it always the most judicious, it is ideal when the cancer is in a place that may drastically affect your appearance.
Having a Manhattan dermatologist highly trained in Mohs micrographic surgery is a boon when you need it. And a cosmetic dermatologist is better able to provide you with the cosmetic follow-up to assure you that you won’t have a noticeable Mohs surgery scar. The Mohs surgery procedure removes the least amount of skin and leaves the smallest scar, as compared to other surgical options.
Side Effects and Mohs Surgery Recovery
Typically, you have little if any pain following a Mohs procedure. Any discomfort can be taken care of with over-the-counter pain relievers. Excessive bleeding is rare too; holding a gauze pad over the affected area for 15 minutes is usually sufficient to tide any blood flow.
While complications are rare, call your New York doctor immediately if you experience chills, fever, swelling, increasing redness or severe pain following a Mohs surgery procedure. Minor complications that disappear in time include:
- Bruising or swelling that lasts for up to five days, especially if the procedure was performed around your eyes — use ice packs help to minimize swelling for the first two days after surgery
- Red skin surrounding the surgical spot, which is common and does not necessarily indicate the presence of an infection
- Itching around the sore, which is also common, especially around the area where adhesive tape was used to block off an area of your skin
- Numbness, which may last for months — if feeling doesn’t return after several months, there is a chance that it will be permanent
Other Skin Cancer Treatments
If you’re in poor health or can’t tolerate procedures that rely on local anesthesia, the Mohs micrographic surgery may not be right for you. Other treatment options include:
- Excision. This technique is common for basal cell carcinoma. Your dermatologist cuts out the offending tissue and a small margin of skin surrounding the tumor.
- Radiation. This is a more drastic option, but effective, especially if you can’t tolerate local anesthesia or if the tumor is located in a hard-to-reach area such the edge of your ear or on your eyelid.
- Cryosurgery. This technique involves freezing the tumor. It’s best for small cancerous growths. Cryosurgery can take a month or more to be completed.
- Topical medication. This technique is often reserved for superficial tumors. You usually perform this at home by applying a medicated cream to the growth every night until it disappears.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Mohs Surgery? Would like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized, best NYC Dermatologist, Dr. Susan Bard of Manhattan Dermatology Specialists, please contact our Midtown NYC or Upper East Side NYC office for consultation with New York dermatologist.