Mohs cancer surgery can spare healthy tissue

drwolf1Dear Dr. Wolf,

I was just told by my dermatologist that I needed a Mohs surgical procedure. My friend had this procedure and said it left her with a big hole. What can you tell me about Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery was developed in 1938 by surgeon Dr. Frederic Mohs to microscopically remove all cancer. It remains one of the most effective and advanced treatment for skin cancer today.

Because Mohs is done in stages, many patients feel that it is a tissue-destructive surgery that leaves large defects; however, it actually is a tissue-sparing procedure.

In many cases, cancer margins cannot be determined by simply visually assessing the size of the cancer. After the initial excision of tissue, the doctor will review the microscopic elements of the tissue and determine if there’s any residual cancer. If there’s more cancer, then more tissue is removed. When there’s no cancer noted, the defect may be confidently closed.

The procedure often is performed in conjunction with a plastic surgeon or a facial plastic surgeon who will close the defect. My suggestion to you is find a qualified Mohs surgeon.

Make sure that he or she is able to close a potentially large defect or that a cooperative agreement with a facial plastic surgeon or a plastic surgeon is in place.

Even cancers that appear very small can create large defects. You don’t want to be surprised if that happens.

Dr. Wolf’s office is located at 8940 N. Kendall Dr., Suite 903E. He may be reached at 305-595-2969 or at

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