Explaining Mohs Surgery In Clear And Concise Language

When you visit a dermatologist and he/she says you need Mohs surgery, you might be envisioning one of the Three Stooges and some surgery that Moe had. While that is quite the funny image, the actual Mohs surgery is not so funny and should be taken more seriously. A dermatologist that recommends this surgery thinks that there may be cancerous skin tissue somewhere on your body. Now you may be wondering what Mohs is, and worried about what will happen. The following will help explain Mohs in a clear and concise language and what will happen during and after the procedure.

Mohs Procedure Prep

The area of your body where your dermatologist suspects you have skin cancer will be prepped before the procedure. 

This includes:

  • Washing the area
  • Applying a light coating of iodine to sterilize the area
  • Placing an adhesive surgical apron with opening around the area
  • Numbing the area with a local anesthetic via needle injection underneath the possibly cancerous tissue

General anesthesia is not needed, so your dermatologist will not be knocking you out. If you cannot stand the sight of blood or you freak out about needles, a screen can be set up around your neck and head to block your view during the prep as well as the procedure itself.

The Mohs Procedure

This procedure is nearly bloodless because it does not cut into the body with a scalpel nor cut too deep. Instead, your dermatologist will use a laser to remove one microscopically thin layer of tissue at a time. Every layer is examined under a microscope to verify if it is a cancer-laden layer.

This process continues until a layer is removed that shows nothing but healthy skin cells. Usually, it does not take very many layers from the surgical site before the procedure is over. If your dermatologist has to take several layers and there are still signs of cancer present, the Mohs procedure may end. Your doctor, at this point, may decide that another course of action is necessary to treat your skin cancer.


It is very rare to need any stitches after the Mohs procedure is finished. However, if your dermatologist had to go a little deeper than expected before stopping the procedure, a stitch or two may be used to close the area. Your dermatologist may also decide to take a biopsy sample towards the end of the procedure to see just how deep the cancer cells go, in which case you may need a few extra stitches. If you do not need any stitches at all, your doctor puts a Band-aid on the spot or a small gauze bandage and sends you home. You may feel a twinge of pain from this area for a day or two, but then it should feel fine.

For more information or assistance, contact companies like Dermatology Surgery Center.