Mohs surgery & other popular skin cancer treatments
Mohs surgery or Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS), is an extremely precise surgical technique done by a trained Mohs surgeon. In short, it combines pathology and surgery to remove layers of skin containing skin cancer.
The tumor is frozen then cut into extremely thin slices. The tissue is dyed and examined under a microscope. This is done until all of the skin cancer is eliminated. These slices (levels) are done carefully to not only to ensure all of the compromised tissue is eliminated, but also to ensure proper healing and preservation of healthy skin. Often times, depending on the severity, these procedures take place in the physicians office with patients being able to work and maintain normal life almost immediately.
Currently MMS surgery is more expensive than conventional methods of treatments to remove skin cancer. Those methods are (according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America):
- Excision: An excision with a scalpel or sharp razor is made shaving a the growth away. A local anesthesia is used to numb the affected area. The skin is usually left with a scar.
- Curettage and electrodessication (C&D, or ED&C): A procedure in which the affected skin is removed with a curette. Once the lesion is scrapped the area is treated by an electrode and electrified with a small current which kills the remaining cancer cells. There may be repeat treatments. A local anesthesia is used to numb the affected area. The skin is usually left with a scar.
- Cryosurgery: This method uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the cancer cells. It is generally for small areas but may still require repeat treatments.
- Laser surgery: A laser is used to burn off the cancer cells. It is generally used for very small areas of cancer.
What to expect after Mohs Surgery?
After your surgeon removes all of the cancer, he or she will decide how to best care for the wound and minimize scarring. Depending on the severity of the tumor and incision size your doctor may decide to let the wound site heal on its own, use stitches, or in some cases use a skin flap or graft to cover the wound.
Your doctor will give you detailed post operative instructions. Wounds are generally covered with a pressurized dressing to create a blood clot and stop bleeding. All physicians will advise you rest, avoid heavy lifting, and taking a break from exercise for 24-48 hours. They will also advise against swimming as it increases the chance of infection. Most patients can take a normal shower after 24 hours. If there is swelling, ice may be applied as directed by your physician. The area should be covered in a waterproof dressing in order to do so.
Minimizing scars after Mohs Surgery
Following your physicians directions and contact them if anything seems out of normal. The most important part of wound healing is patients and diligence. Keeping a keep a clean wound will decrease your risk of infection, healing time, and the visibility of your scar. It is also important to keep the wound moist while keeping unwanted moisture out (read more about moist healing). This requires a waterproof dressing that does not compromise already tender skin when removed. It is also advised to limit sun exposure. UV rays will darken the scar and increase its size and visibility. It may take up to six months for the area to be healthy.
Hy-Tape is an excellent waterproof taping and wound cover option for doctors and patients. Hy-Tape is latex free and our adhesive is zinc-oxide based. It is important to consider the health of the skin surrounding the wound as it will be subject to repeat taping. Hy-Tape is also UPF50+ so patients can enjoy the outdoors. Our tape is utilized in the toughest of cases where skin is either thin or under stress.