Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans develop it at some point in their lifetime. While skin cancer can arise at any age, it’s particularly common as we age into our 60s and above.
The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these conditions, Mohs surgery may be a good option. Let’s take a closer look at what this procedure entails and how it may help you.
How Mohs Surgery Works
The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove the cancer from your skin. The origins of the technique began in the 1930s with the work of Dr. Frederic E. Mohs. It’s a highly effective treatment because it allows our dermatologists to completely remove the skin cancer, meticulously checking the margins with a microscope for the highest cure rate possible, while preserving the maximum amount of surrounding tissue.
If you opt for Mohs surgery, you can expect an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia performed by our Mohs Surgeon Suzanne Mosher, voted Best of Boston for the past 3 years. During the surgery, Dr. Mosher removes the area of the skin cancer, which is then processed by her expert team. She then examines it under the microscope to make sure the cancer is entirely removed. If there is an area with cancer cells at the edge, she will take an additional sliver of tissue which is then processed and then rechecked by the surgeon. In most cases, it takes about 1 to 3 rounds to remove all of the cancer. Dr. Mosher then performs her magic reconstructing the area with the utmost skill and attention to detail to minimize scarring.
After Mohs surgery, you’ll likely feel a bit tired. Our dermatologists will ask that you rest as much as you can and stay away from heavy lifting and intense physical activity. You’ll need to follow the particular post surgical instructions recommended by the Mohs team that generally includes keeping the area covered with a bandage while stitches are in place.
Good Candidates for Mohs Surgery
While Mohs surgery isn’t for everyone, it may be the optimal solution if you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer on the face, neck, hands, scalp and sometimes legs. It may also make sense if your cancer has grown at a rapid pace or returned after being treated in the past. In addition, our dermatologists may suggest Mohs surgery if your cancer is of an aggressive type, or if you are immunocompromised.
“I really like coming here – specifically to see Dr. Norden (worth the drive). She’s very thorough, a good listener and detail oriented. I really appreciate that Dr. Norden doesn’t dismiss any question or concern – no matter how small or minor you may think it is – and she always explains very thoroughly why she’s recommending a particular course of action or treatment plan (I appreciate her clear communication). Dr. Norden is the best dermatologist that I have ever had – and she doesn’t hesitate to test anything that looks suspicious or that she wants confirmation about. My prior dermatologist waited over 18 months to test a suspicious spot on my nose and it turned out to be Basal Cell Carcinoma, requiring painful MOHs surgery and a skin graft. I feel like Dr. Norden is proactive, thorough and wouldn’t hesitate to test something sketchy. One other little thing that I LOVE about this doctor…I had some weird rough patch on my elbow that I had for years that I mentioned in passing during one of our appts. and the doctor gave me a couple of small free samples of this cream that cleared it right up in no time (like miraculously)…I later found out from my pharmacy that this miracle cream typically costs hundreds (literally hundreds) of dollars and most insurance companies don’t cover it. This one small gesture from the doctor saved me a ton of $. However, (more importantly) Dr. Norden saw a way she could solve a relatively minor problem, acted proactively and didn’t try to write me out a costly prescription when she had some samples readily available to help me. That’s how Dr. Norden rolls. Can’t beat that.”*
If you have further questions about Mohs surgery or are wondering whether you’re a good candidate for this procedure, we encourage you to schedule a consultation at Krauss Dermatology. Call us at 781-416-3500 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to meeting you!