Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery removes skin cancer from delicate places, layer by layer. This precise procedure uses a microscope to get rid of cancer cells. It can save your normal, healthy skin.

We use this surgery for basal and squamous cell carcinomas and other rare skin cancers that:

  • Came back after treatment
  • Occur near scar tissue
  • Are large
  • Have poorly-defined edges
  • Are growing fast

Why Mohs?

This treatment:

  • Takes place in one visit 
  • Doesn't require you to be asleep
  • Gives you instant results 
  • Provides accurate results

Cure rates are very high with Mohs surgery.

What to Expect from Mohs Surgery

Using a small scalpel, we remove the top, visible part of the cancer. Next, we remove another, deeper layer. We then divide this layer into sections. We color code the sections to know where the layers go in the skin.

We then freeze these skin sections and examine them for cancer. We do this for each skin layer. We finish the procedure when we've cleared your skin of cancer.

If you have a large wound, you'll need stitches, a skin flap, or a skin graft. Shallow wounds will heal on their own.

Mohs surgery happens:

  • Using local anesthesia 
  • While you're awake 
  • For several hours

You'll be able to go home after the procedure.

Mohs Surgery Risks

Possible complications may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Reaction to the local anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Damage to nerve endings 
  • Itching or shooting-pain sensations

Next steps: Talk to your dermatologist about this treatment.

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.