Mohs Surgery at Bryn Mawr Dermatology: The Gold Standard for Skin Cancer Treatment

Introduction

Mohs surgery is the gold standard for treating basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), providing up to 99% cure rate for skin cancer that has not been treated before and 94% for skin cancer that has recurred after previous treatment. Efficient, precise, and cost-effective, this surgery removes cancerous tissue while leaving the smallest scar possible.

While this article spells out everything you need to know about Mohs Surgery, and we highly recommend you read the full article, here are the key points we will focus on:

Table of Contents

Keep reading to learn more about Mohs surgery, what to expect during Mohs surgery, and general information about skin cancer prevention and detection for healthy skin.
Mohs Surgery Villanova PA

What is Mohs Surgery?

More than 5.3 million cases of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Mohs surgery is a safe and highly effective procedure to treat these cancers, showing the lowest recurrence rates, highest cure rates, and best cosmetic results of any skin cancer treatment. Performed by a specially trained surgeon during a single-visit, Mohs surgery is conducted in stages to preserve healthy skin tissue and ensure no cancer cells remain.

What Does Mohs Surgery Stand For?

Also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, Mohs surgery is named after its founder and originator, Frederic E. Mohs, MD, who studied at the University of Wisconsin in the 1930s. Mohs’ procedure was refined in the 1970s and 1980s by NYU dermatologist Perry Robins, MD, who established a fellowship training program to teach dermatologists the novel skin cancer surgery.

What to Expect During Mohs Surgery

The Mohs surgeon will first examine the spot where you had your biopsy, mark it with a pen for reference, and carefully inject local anesthesia to numb the area completely. Next, your surgeon will use a scalpel to carefully remove a thin layer of visible cancer tissue. This tissue will be examined in a lab analysis, allowing your surgeon to create a detailed microscopic map of the surgical site and determine how to remove the entire tumor without harming healthy tissue. If any cancer remains, your surgeon will remove a second layer of skin in the precise areas mapped. This precise technique may be repeated many times until the cancer is completely removed.

How Long Will Mohs Surgery Last?

The total time the procedure will take varies per patient. On average, patients require two stages to remove their skin cancer, a process which can take up to several hours. If more rounds are needed, the process may take up the entire day. The waiting time is worth it, however, due to the high cure rate and minimally invasive procedure method.

How Long Does It Take to Heal from Mohs Surgery?

After your surgery, the surgical site will be covered with a bandage. Your doctor will instruct you on when to remove the bandage and how to care for your wound at home. During this time, it is important to relax and avoid any strenuous activities to allow your wound to heal. Depending on the size of your wound, sutures may be removed five to 10 days after surgery, while the total healing process may take up to 4 to 6 weeks.

Is Mohs Surgery Better Than Excision?

Mohs surgery is a specialized surgical procedure to remove basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), whereas surgical excision is used to remove all kinds of skin cancer, both melanoma and non-melanoma. While Mohs surgery examines 100% of tissue margins under the microscope to conserve the greatest amount of healthy tissue, standard surgical excision only examines 1% of tissue and may also remove a margin of healthy tissue. For small or low-risk BCCs and SCCs, surgical excision may provide adequate therapy. Nonetheless, Mohs is more reliable and boasts a higher cure rate (98%) than standard surgical excisions.

How to Reduce Your Skin Cancer Risk

1. Limit Your Exposure to the Sun

Sunburns have been linked to an increased risk of developing melanoma later in life. To lower your risk of skin cancer, limit your exposure to the sun, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the rays are strongest. This includes avoiding tanning booths and beds that use concentrated UV light.

2. Use Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Sunscreen is essential to lower your risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. As a rule of thumb, you should apply an ounce of sunscreen to cover your entire body, including your ears, shoulders, face, and back of the knees and legs. Your sunscreen should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher if you are outside for longer than 20 minutes. If you are sweating or swimming, make sure to reapply regularly.

3. Cover Your Skin

Wearing sun-protective clothing can go a long way in protecting your skin from damage. If you are going outside, consider wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays, a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, and long sleeves and pants to shield the skin on your arms and legs.

4. Conduct a Skin Self-Examination

When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable. It is important to perform a skin self-examination once a month to identify early signs of skin cancer. When doing your self-examination, remember the ABCDE rule, which indicates early signs of skin cancer:

  1. Asymmetry: spot or mole with an unusual shape
  2. Border: jagged or uneven border
  3. Color: uneven color
  4. Diameter: spot that is larger than a pea
  5. Evolving: mole or spot that has changed in past couple of weeks or months

To start, stand in front of a full-length mirror and look at the skin on your face, ears, neck, chest, stomach, arms, underarms, palms, back of your hands, fingers, and skin under your fingernails. Next, examine your shins and thighs, the tops of your feet and toes, and the skin under your toenails. Lastly, use a hand mirror to check the skin on the back of your thighs, calves, and bottoms of your feet, as well as the skin on your genital area, buttocks, upper back, lower back, ears, neck, and scalp.

During your self-examination, you may choose to record suspicious spots on a body map to keep note of any changes from year-to-year. You can show this map to your doctor during your annual physical. If you notice a mole that is different from your other moles, please book an appointment to see your dermatologist.

Schedule an Appointment with a Dermatologist Today

At Bryn Mawr Dermatology, skin cancer patients can rest assured that they are receiving the most competent, high-quality treatment. With extensive experience in cosmetic dermatology, our dermatologists perform each Mohs procedure with minimal scarring, ensuring the best surgical and cosmetic outcomes possible for our patients.

If you have a question about Mohs surgery, please Request an Appointment with one of our specially trained Mohs surgeons. During your consultation, a Bryn Mawr surgeon will evaluate your concerns and determine an ideal treatment plan for your specific case.
Get started today by calling our dermatology team at (610) 525-7800 or easily book an appointment online. We look forward to caring for you!