What is Mohs surgery ?

Written by: Dra. Elena Tévar Valiente
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Mohs surgery is a very effective technique to treat skin cancer. Its difference with other treatments is that it allows an immediate microscopic examination of the tumor and it is possible to eliminate all the roots of the cancer and therefore its extension.

Some cancers extend thanks to these roots to the skin, blood vessels, nerves or cartilage, and thus manage to reappear once extirpated. By eliminating these roots, Mohs surgery prevents the cancer from developing again and that is why this surgery achieves higher cure rates.

Another of its advantages is that it only removes the tumor tissue, respecting healthy tissue, so that the best aesthetic results are also achieved.



The disadvantage of Mohs surgery is that you can not know how long the surgery will last , since you can not predict the number of roots that the tumor will present.



This surgery is not suitable for all types of skin cancer , but is used to:

- A skin cancer that has appeared again after previous treatment.

- A cancer located in areas prone to tumor reproduction.

- Histological types of greater aggressiveness and more possibilities of recurrence.

- A cancer located in an area where the aesthetic result is "priority".

Generally, these conditions make Mohs surgery usually used for cancers of the nose, lips, eyelids and genitals .


The process until healing

Mohs surgery is performed in a properly prepared medical center. The patient only receives local anesthesia , so he is awake, and the area to be treated is sterilized and marked. The dermatologist removes visible cancer and a thin layer of additional tissue.

This excised tissue is cut into sections, its edges are stained and parts are marked, which are then frozen in liquid nitrogen. A technician then makes fine cuts of the edge and bottom of the piece, and these are placed in glass sheets to be stained and observed under a microscope.

The pathologist then examines the edges of each piece and this allows him to identify the roots of the cancer. If residual tumor is detected, a second excision is performed, but only where the tumor has developed.

This process is repeated until all the roots of cancer have been located and removed.. Once all the cancer has been removed, the dermatologist can choose:

- Leave to heal naturally

- Close the defect with a direct suture

- Carry out a skin graft

- Make a skin flap.

Depending on the type of closure that has been made, the healing of the wound may take more or less time, although in most cases, it takes 7 to 10 days to remove the stitches .

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dra. Elena Tévar Valiente

Dermatology expert in Mohs Surgery and Head of the Unit for Vitiligo. Combines the development of their daily work with additional training in their specialty. He is currently a Specialist in Medical-Surgical Dermatology and Venereology at the University Hospital Clinico San Carlos de Madrid and the University Hospital Foundation Alcorcon, Madrid.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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