Mohs surgery followed by cosmetic repair yields good results

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Q: What is the process of Mohs surgery?

A: Mohs surgery is a technique in which cancerous lesions are removed one layer at a time until healthy tissues are found. The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove all the cancer cells while minimizing removal of healthy tissue.

Q: What is cosmetic repair?

A: Mohs surgery deals with the removal of the skin cancer. After that the wound is repaired by tissue reconstruction. Trained and qualified physicians then use cosmetic closure techniques for more aesthetically pleasing results to minimize scarring from the procedure.

Q: Do all Mohs surgeons perform cosmetic repair?

A: No. It is not uncommon for a Mohs surgeon to refer a patient to a second physician for repair.

Q: Are there certain types of skin cancer that qualify for Mohs surgery?

A: Mohs surgery has great success for both basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, and can be used on rarer tumors. Mohs surgery is typically indicated were tissue-sparing is important. There are published criteria defining areas appropriate for Mohs surgery.

Q: What is the success rate for Mohs?

A: Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer - up to 99%.

Q: Does Mohs surgery require a hospital stay?

A: This procedure is done under local anesthesia, and patients can be managed on an outpatient basis. Local anesthesia is administered in the area of the tumor.

Typically, the procedure starts in the morning and can be completed the same day, depending on the extent of the tumor and the amount or reconstruction necessary.

Q: Is post-op follow-up required?

A: Post-surgical check-ups are recommended in order to monitor the patient's progress; and long-term follow-up is recommended to spot any possible cancer recurrence or new skin cancers in a timely manner.

Since it is likely that two out of every five patients with one skin cancer will develop another within five years, follow-up is extremely important for early detection of any new lesions.

Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, a Fellow of the American Society for Mohs Surgery, and certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.

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