Your Summit Health dermatologist can answer all your questions about your Mohs micrographic surgery, but here are some questions and answers that will help you know what to expect before, during, and after your procedure.
Yes, because Mohs surgery for skin cancer removal is a necessity, your insurance company will cover the cost of the procedure. Be sure to check with your insurance company to let them know when your procedure is scheduled and to prevent confusion about coverage.
Yes, your doctor will examine you to determine if Mohs surgery is right for you. He or she will also examine you again the day of your procedure.
Local anesthesia will be administered with a small (fine-gauge) needle to numb the area where your surgeon will work. Most patients suggest that between the anesthesia and the surgeon's gentle approach, they experience little or no pain. You will receive a prescription for pain medication before you go home in case you need it.
No. All Mohs procedures are performed with safe local anesthesia.
Yes, you will have stitches (or sutures) to close your surgical wound. In most cases, the sutures will dissolve on their own. If you have sutures that do not dissolve, we will remove them at a follow-up visit approximately 2 weeks after your surgery.
Yes, your surgery will leave a scar; however, surgeons trained in the Mohs surgical technique are adept at reconstruction. As a result, they do everything possible to ensure that you have the best cosmetic outcome possible. Some patients need additional procedures to achieve their cosmetic goals. Ask your surgeon what you might expect.
Scarring differs with skin types and the extent of tumors. For this reason, there's no way to predict the exact size and look of your scar. In general, scars tend to be red immediately and for some weeks or months following surgery. In time, many scars heal to a barely visible thin white line. Whenever possible, Mohs surgeons use natural contours of the face and skin folks to conceal scars.
Once your surgeon has removed your tumor, he or she will perform reconstructive surgery on the spot. Some patients want additional surgery to achieve certain aesthetic goals after they have had skin cancer removed. After you have healed and if you would like different results, ask your Mohs surgeon what he or she recommends.
You may drive home after your surgery unless you've had surgery near the eye or on your hands.
Although you will go home the day of your surgery, you should plan to rest and not return to work the same day. Many patients return to work within a day or two of their surgery, but you should ask your surgeon what he or she recommends. Your surgeon also will give you careful instructions about what you can do to heal properly.
Your surgeon will tell you when you can resume exercising; however, many patients who have surgery on the neck or head can exercise after a week, and those who have surgery on the trunk or extremities usually must wait at least two weeks. Be sure to tell your surgeon what kind of activity you're planning so that he or she can tell you when it's appropriate to start exercising again.
Because we want to lessen the odds of infection, we do not perform multiple surgeries on the same day.
Melanoma and squamous cell carcinomas can spread (sometimes rapidly) to other parts of the body if you do not have them removed. Although basal cell carcinomas do not usually spread to other parts of the body, they continue to grow. In rare cases, basal cell carcinomas can grow down to a nerve and spread. Melanoma and squamous cell carcinomas also can cause death if they are left untreated and spread. These cancers are typically more disfiguring the longer they are left untreated and the larger they grow.
Postponing your surgery can give your cancer the opportunity to grow larger and spread, complicating reconstruction and recovery. Squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma can be deadly if they spread to other parts of the body. For these reasons, we do not recommend postponing surgery. It's also very important to be on time for your procedure to ensure that you have it as scheduled.
You should not take over-the-counter medications that contain aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamins for 10 days before your surgery. Be sure to tell your surgeon about other medications you're taking so that he or she can instruct you about what is safe. In most cases, you will continue taking the medications your doctors have prescribed for you.
Yes. Squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and lead to death. Few people die from basal cell carcinomas; however, it can be severely disfiguring if it is left untreated and grows large. In some cases, it can affect nerves and cause the eyes, lips, cheeks, and other areas of the body to function poorly. In rare cases, basal cell carcinoma has lead to death.
You may eat lightly before your surgery and you may bring a snack with you to eat in the waiting room.
The length of your procedure will depend on the extent of your tumor. Ask your surgeon how long he or she predicts you will be in surgery.