Mohs Surgery: How to Prepare and What to Expect

A surgical procedure that boasts a 99% success rate is already great news. One that has this type of success rate against cancer is a headliner, which Mohs microsurgery has quietly accomplished over the last 50 years.

At Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry, Dr. Oswald L. Mikell and his team have considerable experience with Mohs surgery, offering our patients in Hilton Head, Okatie, and Beaufort, South Carolina, the rare opportunity to declare victory over cancer.

If you’ve chosen to have us perform Mohs surgery to excise your skin cancer, or you’re simply curious about the procedure, here’s what you should expect

A little prep work

If you and Dr. Mikell have decided that Mohs surgery is the best treatment avenue for your skin cancer, there usually isn’t much you need to do to prepare in advance. In most cases, we only use local anesthesia, which most people tolerate fairly well. If we do have any pre-op instructions, we make sure we review them with you thoroughly beforehand. If there are instructions, it’s usually about small things, like not eating or drinking in advance of the procedure, wearing comfortable clothes, and arranging for someone to take you home.

There will be periods during your Mohs’ surgery when you might be thankful for something to help you pass the time, such as a book, your phone or mobile tablet, or whatever else may bring you some distraction while you wait.

Day of surgery

When you come in, our first order of business is to ensure your comfort by getting you set up with the local anesthesia. Once the anesthetic is working, Dr. Mikell begins his work. Mohs surgery is an incredibly precise technique that requires a bit of patience. What we’re trying to accomplish is to remove only the cancer, leaving your healthy tissue intact.

This tissue-preserving approach requires us to remove one small layer of tissue at a time, checking each one under the microscope for cancer cells. This means that we go back and forth from your treatment room to the lab until we eradicate all of your cancer.

This patience pays off because we aren’t taking a slash-and-burn approach to your skin cancer by removing it, and a fair amount of healthy tissue around it, in one fell swoop. Since many skin cancers develop in highly visible areas, Mohs surgery is a great technique that allows us to avoid unnecessary scarring because we only remove what we must.

The aftermath

Once we give you the greenlight to go home, we provide you with instructions for keeping your incision clean. Depending upon the location and size of the surgical site, we may suture up the site or leave the wound open so it can heal from the inside out. This largely depends upon how deep we’ve had to go during your Mohs surgery.

In some cases, we place a graft over the area, which means you may have two incisions to manage.

Once your incisions heal, that should spell the end of your skin cancer. Though cancer always carries a risk of recurrence, the exacting and precise technique that we use with our Mohs microsurgery to eradicate your cancer cells offers you some excellent odds against that happening.

If you’d like to learn more about Mohs surgery and what to expect, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.

Check out our next post coming in February. We're excited to tell you all about Mohs Surgery and why it's important to choose a dermatologist who's experienced in Cosmetic Closure. 

 

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