I’m Nervous About My Upcoming Mohs Surgery

Mar 02, 2024
I’m Nervous About My Upcoming Mohs Surgery
Any first-time surgery can be intimidating, even if it’s a minor skin surgery. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Mohs surgery and what to expect during your visit. 

Mohs surgery has revolutionized skin cancer treatment, especially in cases of basal and squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common types. The technique preserves as much healthy tissue around and under a cancerous lesion as possible, minimizes scarring, and offers an astonishing cure rate of up to 99%

Although Mohs surgery boasts many benefits for patients and dermatologists, you still might feel nervous leading up to your appointment. Board-certified dermatologist Vitaly Blatnoy, MD, and the rest of the team at Orlando Dermatology Center in Oviedo, Orlando, and Lake Mary, Florida, can teach you everything you need to know about the Mohs surgery technique and what you can expect. 

If you have Mohs surgery on the books, read our brief guide so you know how to prepare and what to expect. 

What makes Mohs surgery stand out

Far from the only skin cancer removal technique, Mohs surgery trims away cancerous tissue one layer at a time under a dermatologist’s careful eye. We primarily use this technique for basal or squamous cell carcinoma that’s large, irregular, or in a delicate location like your earlobe or neck. 

Many basal and squamous cell carcinomas have microscopic projections around or under the visible lesion that other techniques cannot always address, but Mohs surgery’s meticulous nature can get rid of the hard-to-detect cells. Standard excision for skin cancer must remove a margin of healthy tissue to get rid of the microscopic sections of cancer, though it may still leave some cancer cells behind. 

Our dermatologists perform Mohs surgery in stages. First, they numb your skin with local anesthesia. They then use a scalpel to shave off a small circular layer of tissue, which they then examine under a microscope. With microscopic examination, they can identify where there is and isn’t cancerous tissue and remove the next layer accordingly. 

They examine that layer under the microscope and repeat the process until all cancerous cells are gone. 

How to prepare for your visit

Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure, and you can go home the very same day. However, because it’s hard to predict how many times the process will need to be repeated, you won’t know how long your visit will take. Following our suggested guidelines can give you the best possible outcome and make your experience comfortable even if it lasts all day. 

Around two weeks before your Mohs surgery, you should:

  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid medications and supplements that increase bleeding 
  • Avoid medications and supplements that raise blood pressure
  • Follow any other personalized recommendations from our dermatologist

On the day of your surgery, you can prepare by:

  • Avoiding alcohol for at least 24 hours
  • Eating a substantial breakfast
  • Taking all prescribed medications unless you’re told otherwise
  • Showering or bathing to wash the surgical area
  • Wearing loose-fitting, comfortable clothing
  • Bringing a snack along for your visit
  • Bringing something to entertain yourself like a book or tablet

Your dermatologist discusses possible aftercare steps with you ahead of time. Healing time and expectations after Mohs surgery vary based on the size and location of the cancer. Regardless of your results, you can expect to care for the wound with dressings, bandages, and ointments. 

If the cancer was particularly large or deep, your dermatologist might recommend reconstructive surgery after Mohs surgery to minimize scarring. In many cases, dermatologists can perform the reconstruction immediately after Mohs surgery. 

Get in touch to learn more

If you want to learn more about skin cancer, Mohs surgery, and other skin cancer surgery, our experts are ready to answer your questions. Call Orlando Dermatology Center or book an appointment online for your next skin exam and consultation today.