What is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is also known as Mohs micrographic surgery. The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove as much of the skin cancer as possible, while doing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Mohs surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic.
The procedure was developed by Dr. Frederic Mohs and is now practiced throughout the world.
During the Mohs procedure, the tissue that is removed is immediately examined under a microscope to ensure that the cancer and any of its extensions ("roots") have been removed while minimizing the removal of healthy skin.
Due to the precise manner in which tissue is removed and examined, Mohs surgery has the highest reported cure rate for skin cancer.
When Mohs surgery is used for the initial treatment of skin cancer, its 5-year cure rates are reported to be 99%.
Is Mohs surgery the best treatment option for all skin cancers?
If you have any type of suspicious skin lesion you should seek evaluation by a dermatologist. If skin cancer is suspected, he or she may recommend and perform a biopsy.
Mohs surgery may be recommended based on the type and location of the skin cancer, as well as other factors. If your dermatologist does not perform this technique, he or she will be able to refer you to a Mohs surgeon in your area.
Is Mohs surgery more expensive than other types of skin cancer treatment?
Because it involves a special multi-step process, Mohs surgery is typically slightly more expensive than other skin cancer treatments. It is important, however, to consider the advantages of the Mohs technique (healthy tissue sparing capabilities, lower recurrence rate, etc.) in examining the total cost. Your physician's billing specialists will be able to provide you with estimated insurance reimbursement rates and/or possible payment plan information.
Will Mohs surgery leave a scar?
All surgical procedures have the potential for some degree of visible scarring.
The appearance of a post-Mohs surgical scar will depend on several factors, including size and location of the final defect, individual skin characteristics, and the reconstruction options available.
You should keep in mind, however, that the tissue-sparing nature of the Mohs technique may result in a smaller, less noticeable scar than other skin cancer removal methods. The Mohs surgeon also may be able incorporate suture lines into the patient's natural skin lines and folds. Most scars improve in appearance naturally over time, and future scar revision techniques may employed if necessary.
My skin cancer is in a very noticeable facial area and I am concerned about my appearance following Mohs surgery. Should I have the skin cancer removal performed by a plastic surgeon?
We would recommend removal of the skin cancer by a dermatologist with specialized training in Mohs surgery, due to the histopathology component of the procedure. You may wish to discuss with the Mohs surgeon the option of having a plastic surgeon perform the closure following Mohs surgery, if this is your preference. Your Mohs surgeon's office would be able to help coordinate this type of shared treatment approach.
Will Mohs surgery be covered by my insurance plan?
Mohs surgery is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare. Please enlist the aid of your employee benefits administrator and/or physician’s billing specialist to determine estimated out-of-pocket expenses.
To Learn more: Patient Education Resource on Mohs Surgery ➶