The surgeons at Elite frequently are tasked with removing skin cancer from areas where a big scar is the last thing anyone wants. While taking off a basil cell carcinoma on the back of a middle-aged man may not be overly worrisome from the aspect of the scar it creates, the same can’t be said about removing that same growth from a woman’s cheek. For this skin cancer excision, we employ Mohs surgery, if possible.
What is Mohs surgery?
First developed in 1938 by surgeon Frederic Mohs, Mohs surgery is microscopically controlled surgery used to remove common forms of skin cancer. Since its introduction, Mohs micrographic surgery has been refined into the most advanced, precise, and effective treatment for removing skin cancers. This is important on the delicate, visible areas where leaving the largest amount of healthy surrounding tissue is very important to maintaining proper eyelid function.
During Mohs surgery, our surgeons remove the cancerous tumor. Then the patient waits while the tissue is examined for cancer cells. The margins, or outside, of the cancerous tissue are examined. If cancer cells are still found, additional tissue is removed until healthy, cancer-free tissue around the tumor is reached. This is called “clear margins.” Mohs surgery allows our surgeons to be very precise and remove the least amount of tissue beyond the cancerous tissue.
Advantages of Mohs surgery
In areas where precision isn’t as important, say on the man’s back we noted above, the amount of tissue to be removed is blindly estimated. That is the typical method for removing skin cancer. This approach has two drawbacks: it can lead to the removal of unnecessary healthy tissue (creating a bigger scar) and to tumor re-growth if any cancerous cells are missed.
By microscopically testing layer upon layer of the tissue removed with Mohs surgery, the guesswork is eliminated with only the necessary tissue being removed. That’s why Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer — up to 99%.
On the face, the advantages of Mohs surgery are obvious. Because Mohs surgery minimizes the amount of healthy tissue removed, it reduces the impact on the surrounding skin, improving the aesthetic outcome. Plus, patients can be confident that we’ve removed the entire tumor. This saves money and anxiety. It virtually assures the patient that the skin cancer won’t grow back on the site.
If you have a skin cancer growth on a delicate area, don’t let your dermatologist remove it. Put the expertise of the Elite Plastic Surgery surgeons to work. If possible, we’ll use Mohs surgery to ensure the best final result. Call us at 616-459-1907 to make an appointment, or to ask any questions.