MOHs surgery

A specialised procedure for skin cancer removal

Mohs surgery or Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) is a precise surgical technique used to completely remove skin cancer

About mohs surgery

MOHs surgery is used to treat cancers — including basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma — on the face and other sensitive areas. The cancer is removed in thin layers and analysed under a microscope until no further cancer cells are present. Mohs surgery is considered the gold standard for removal of skin cancers on the face.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area where you're having surgery. Your surgeon will then take the first thin layer of tissue to be examined. The area will be treated to prevent any bleeding and a dressing will be applied. The skin sample is analysed immediately and if cancer cells are still present, another small layer is taken. The process of removing each layer only takes a few minutes. However, examining each layer can take over an hour. The length of your appointment will depend on how many layers need to be removed. This delicate procedure minimises damage to healthy tissue.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will let you know how to prepare for the procedure and answer any questions you might have. It’s important to tell your consultant about any medications you’re taking, particularly any blood-thinning tablets such as aspirin. Aspirin-based medicines can make the area more likely to bleed. For this reason, your consultant might also suggest avoiding alcohol in the days leading up to surgery. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    Once the sample shows that the skin cancer has been removed completely, your surgeon will decide on the best way to close the area to minimise scarring. Depending on the size and location of the cut, this could involve a skin graft, stitches or, if the skin cancer was very small, simply leaving the area to heal. The cure rate for Mohs surgery is very high – up to 99% for new cancers and 95% for recurrent cancers. You should be able to go home the same day as your surgery. Your consultant will explain how to care for the area in the days and weeks following your surgery for the best cosmetic result.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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