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Mohs Surgery - Risks, procedures, and Recovery from Skin cancer

SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Pete / Pinellas County , Brandon, Lutz, Winter Haven, Largo, Riverview, Brooksville, Ocala, and Daytona Beach, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Seminole, Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.

With the skin cancer rate rising for the past several decades, despite advancing medical knowledge, younger adults have been falling prey to skin tumors. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology in 2021, on 1,000 US adults explained that misconceptions and unawareness about the risks of sun exposure cause young women and men to suffer from painful and ugly tumors. 

Applying SPF, wearing sunglasses, clothing, and seeking shade wherever possible; are some of the best techniques that people employ to shield them off skin cancer risks. Yet, the rate of melanoma, between 1970 and 2009, has increased by 8-fold in young women and 4-fold in young men. 

Despite advancing medical technology, you may fall victim to the recurring tumor that can affect your life cosmetically or functionally. If that becomes the case, the best way to remove the cancer cell off your skin without suffering through pain is getting treatment under Mohs surgery.  

In this article, we’ll talk about what is Mohs surgery, what are the risks and procedures associated with it, and how effectively it can treat skin cancer. 

Developed by Frederic E. Mohs in the 1930s, Mohs micrographic surgery is the most effective treatment for all types of skin cancer lesions that has been refined since then to make it the least invasive technique. 

What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized type of surgery developed to remove both common (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma) and rare skin cancer. The procedure involves layer-by-layer removal of skin that has cancer cells, striving to remove as much as possible, while sticking to the goal of saving healthy tissue around it. 

Professionals work on removing the skin by layer and examining it under a microscope until all the cancer cells are removed. This eliminates the chances of getting any future treatments or surgery. 

Mohs surgery is not vital for every skin cancer, though surgeons suggest Mohs surgery when: 

  • Skin cancer has affected parts that are involved in daily activities like fingers, or appearance, like the nose. 
  • Earlier skin cancer treatments didn’t work 
  • The tumor is large, and 
  • Regular surgery has lesser chances of removing cancer. 
  • Read our in-depth article on how to spot skin cancer

What are the types of skin cancer removed by Mohs Surgery?

It is a painstaking procedure that requires microscopic analysis of tissue cells by Mohs surgeons. Mohs surgery is used to treat the most common type of skin cancer- basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. However, the procedure comes in handy for more rare, aggressive, skin and soft tissue cancers like: 

  • Skin cancers near vital functional and cosmetically important areas
  • Skin cancers that are 2cm or larger 
  • Skin cancers that have no defined borders
  • Skin cancer in the areas where scar tissue is already present

Mohs Surgery Procedure

Mohs surgery is done by removing the skin with cancer cells layer-by-layer while the patient is wide awake. Let’s check the typical steps involved in the procedure: 

  • The skin and tissue around the cancer cells are numbed with injected anesthesia. And then the visibly raised area is removed at first. 

  • With an aim to preserve healthy and normal skin as much as possible, a thin layer of tissue is removed. 

  • Along with marking on the patient’s map, the tissue is marked in a way to identify right, left, top, and bottom. 

  • The removed tissue is immediately frozen and stained in the laboratory. The process typically takes an hour, though this time can vary depending on the case. 

  • The deeper and outer edges of the removed tissue are examined under a microscope by the surgeons. The microscope helps the surgeon find if the cancer is small, hidden, or deeper under the skin. 

  • Cancer cells that are seen under the microscope are then processed to identify their location (according to the map). Surgeons then remove an additional layer of tissue if cancer cells remain. 

  • The extra layer is processed again and rechecked under the microscope. The process continues until all the cancer is cut out from the skin. 

The number of tries to remove the entire tumor is never fixed and sufferers are asked to be patient for the entire process.

With a cure rate exceeding 99 percent for new skin cancer and 95 percent for recurrent skin cancers,  Moh surgery has the highest cure rate of all treatments for basal and squamous cell skin cancers. 

After the surgery

The surgery includes removing the tissues that have cancer, your surgeon will be able to see the results right after the tissue is removed. But it takes longer for the wound to heal. You will be required to follow up with your doctor regularly to make sure the wound healing is going all well. 

There are chances of you suffering from discomfort, bleeding, rashes, or swelling after the surgery but these shall go away on their own without necessarily pushing the healing. 

The person is high on anesthesia, sedatives, or painkillers. Hence, it is suggested to have someone who can take you home afterward because driving right after the surgery won’t be a smart choice. 

Risks associated with Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery is considered safe and complications associated with it are very low, however, there can be some risks to you, depending upon your individual case. It is suggested to discuss your health issues and concerns about the surgery with your Doctor.

Here are the potential risks associated with Mohs surgery: 

  • You may have a thick, raised scar at the tumor removal site 
  • A larger than the anticipated wound is created upon cancer skin removal 
  • Due to underlying health conditions or failed recovery methods, your wound can take longer to heal
  • Excessive bleeding into or from the wound, can affect the recovery rate and cause more office visits
  • Infection 
  • Permanent or temporary numbness. There can be a loss of nerve function in case a tumor invades the nerve
  • Regrowth of tumor after removal. Though this is a common risk for those treating large, longstanding tumors. 
  • Itching or shooting pain 
  • Cosmetic and functional deformity 

Mohs Surgery Recovery care

After the successful removal of the tumor, your surgeon will suggest the best methods to manage the resultant wound. Here are some of the common choices: 

  • Shutting the wound close with stitches
  • Easing the wound to heal on its own
  • Using Skin flap or graft for closing the wound (borrowing tissue from surrounding skin)
  • Involving another specialist to close the wound (common in the cases where the tumor is larger than expected)
  • Using a combination of the above-listed methods

Psoriasis vs Skin Cancer

Most people are observed confusing psoriasis with skin cancer. While you may also think Psoriasis skin cancer is a tumor, it is in fact a disorder that causes the body to make new skin cells too quickly. These cells pile up and form bumps or scaly patches.

Whereas skin cancer is an uncontrolled growth of faulty cells that can be started off as skin cancer and grow into tumors. You may spot skin cancer on any of your body parts spreading further to the whole body making it serious or deadly if left untreated. 

Skin conditions can be confusing, hence it is possible to get baffled between psoriasis and skin cancer. It is suggested to inspect your body on a monthly basis and inform your doctor about any new spots or growths. 

Now, we understand finding the best skin cancer services that can cure tumors is quite a task. Going through the internet, surfing for the services skin cancer around you can be tiring. But you have a fair advantage if you live in Tampa, Florida. 

Suncoast Skin Solutions in Tampa, Florida and Surrounding Locations

Suncoast skin solutions are Florida’s most trusted dermatology group which is spread around 22 convenient locations to help you with effective skincare. Their team of experts offers a wide range of surgical and non-surgical solutions including Mohs surgery, or regular botox. 

The list of their services include:

  • Skin Cancer: This includes Mohs surgery, Superficial radiation therapy (SRT)
  • Medical Treatment: Acne, pediatric dermatology, nail fungus, dry skin, pruritus, melasma, scar revision, etc. 
  • Laser Treatment: Icon Palomar laser, laser hair removal, Smartskin fractionated CO2
  • Cosmetic Treatment: Botox, skincare, laser, sunspots, fillers, laser treatment. 

Suncoast skin solutions have made tremendous efforts in the field of medical dermatology including skin cancer eczema, acne, and rosacea. 

Being located in Brandon, Brookville, Tampa Bay, and other 19 locations, the team of Suncoast strives to outspread helping people with skin cancer while laying emphasis on the prevention of skin diseases. 

You can refer to the website for detailed information on the services and contact the skin cancer team that will further guide you through the treatment process.