Mohs Surgery: How to Prepare and What to Expect

If you’re having skin cancer removed, your top priority is likely that all of the cancer is removed. And your second priority is likely that you’re left with as little a trace of your procedure as possible, especially if it’s being done on a visible area of your body.

Our board-certified dermatologists at Dermatology Associates of Central NJ have considerable experience with Mohs surgery. It’s the most advanced treatment for skin cancer, with success rates of up to 99%. It’s also the most precise surgery for skin cancer, because it removes the cancerous tissue and leaves most of the healthy tissue unharmed.

If you’ve chosen us to perform Mohs surgery to remove your skin cancer, or if you want to learn more about the procedure, here’s what you should expect. 

Before your Mohs procedure 

If you and your doctor have decided that Mohs surgery is the best treatment option for your skin cancer, there are a few things you should know in advance. 

Avoid aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, including ibuprofen, for one full week before your procedure. And, to ensure proper healing and to prevent a blood pressure spike, don’t consume alcohol for several days before and after your surgery

If you have pre-existing conditions, check with your general practitioner to determine if you should start an antibiotic before your surgery. And if you’re on a blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it and when. 

Your surgical appointment 

You should be able to eat a normal breakfast unless we direct you otherwise. If the surgery is on your face, clean it thoroughly and don’t wear makeup. Be sure to bring a book or device to stay entertained during any downtime. 

You won’t have to worry about pain, because you’ll be given local anesthesia. Mohs surgery is an incredibly precise procedure that requires a bit of patience. The goal is to remove only the cancer and leave the healthy tissue intact.

During the procedure, your dermatologist removes only one layer of tissue at a time. Each time a layer is removed, it’s taken to the lab to see if there are any skin cancer cells remaining. Once a layer is found to be cancer-free, no more layers are removed.

After your Mohs surgery 

Once you’re ready to go home, we’ll provide you with post-op instructions. Depending on the location and size of the surgical site, we may suture up the site or leave the wound open so it can heal from the inside out. This will largely depend on how deep we have to go during your Mohs surgery. In some cases, we may place a skin graft over the area. 

You may have a small amount of bruising, swelling, and/or minor discomfort, but it should resolve quickly. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed. You’ll need to forgo rigorous physical work or exercise for at least a couple of days and plan on some extra rest. 

If you’d like to learn more about Mohs surgery and what to expect, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dermatology Associates of Central NJ today.

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