What is Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery?

Mohs surgery is considered to be the most effective technique for treating basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common forms of skin cancer.  It also offers the highest cure rate while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. Mohs skin cancer surgery is done in stages.

What to Expect from Treatment?

Mohs skin cancer surgery is performed in layers. Layers of the skin will be removed with a scalpel and each layer will be examined under a microscope. To start removing layers, a local anesthetic will be injected, and a scalpel will be used to remove a thin layer of visible cancerous tissue. This tissue will then be sent to an onsite lab to be analyzed to determine the extent of the skin cancer. Your surgeon will then let you know whether another layer of tissue needs to be removed. This entire process is repeated until there are no more cancer cells present.

Once the site is cleared of all cancer cells, the wound may be closed with stitches, depending on its size and location. In the case that a large wound is present, our dermatologists may work with other specialists such as a plastic surgeon, oculoplastic surgeon, or hand surgeon to repair the wound.


Following Mohs skin cancer surgery, your dermatologist will provide you with post-op instructions to help ensure a quick and easy recovery. Strenuous activity should be avoided for at least 24-48 hours. Any discomfort that occurs can be lessened with cold compresses, over-the-counter pain medications, and rest.

If you have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, contact our office today to schedule your Mohs skin cancer surgery consultation. We will work with you to create a treatment plan to help you achieve healthy skin.

How do I know if I need Mohs surgery?

Your dermatologist may recommend Mohs surgery after performing a skin biopsy to determine if your growth is cancerous. There are many different skin cancer treatments available, so your dermatologist can recommend whether Mohs surgery is the right fit for you.

How can I prepare for Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery requires significant waiting time, so the best way to prepare is by bringing your book or show in order to pass time. Make sure to also avoid alcohol or smoking ahead of your surgery and get a good night’s rest beforehand.

Who will perform my Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery should only be performed by a board-certified dermatologist with specialization in surgical techniques. It’s best to search for a specified Mohs surgeon when looking at your options.

Will I be put under anesthesia for Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery does not require you to be put to sleep. In fact, it’s performed using local anesthetic, so you’ll be awake and alert throughout.

What is recovery like from Mohs surgery?

Most patients require about 2 weeks of avoiding heavy activity or exercise. However, you’ll likely be able to return to work the next day (depending on the nature of your job).

How long does it take for a wound to heal after Mohs surgery?

It can take about 4-6 weeks for the skin to fully heal after Mohs surgery. Our team will give you detailed aftercare instructions on how to manage your wound and prevent complications.

How soon can I shower after Mohs surgery?

You can shower 24 hours after surgery but should take care to keep the wound and bandages completely dry. Our team can give you tips on how to properly shower after your surgery.

How long does it take for Mohs scar to flatten?

This can depend on many different factors like your body’s rate of healing and whether you’re prone to scarring. It can take about six months to one year for the scar to fully settle into its final appearance, after which you can undergo a scar revision treatment as needed.

Do Mohs wounds heal faster covered or uncovered?

Covered wounds heal best. Uncovered wounds can become dry and scab, which ultimately causes a scar. Make sure to keep your wound covered and moisturized with Vaseline.

Will Mohs surgery leave a scar?

This can depend on how well you follow aftercare instructions – if you keep the wound covered and moist, you’re much less likely to have visible scarring. Our team can discuss your options for reducing visible scarring with the right aftercare and scar treatments.