Mohs Micrographic Surgery (MMS) is one of the methods used to remove a variety of skin tumors. It is different from other procedures used to treat skin cancers because of the meticulous checking of 100% of the surgical margins to ensure that the entire tumor has been eliminated. Although MMS is a time-consuming and complete procedure, it provides the best chance of curing the cancer, and also results in the smallest amount of tissue being removed. Therefore, MMS is typically used for aggressive tumors, tumors in areas of functional/cosmetic concern, or those cancers which have not responded to other treatment methods.
The surgery is performed with local anesthesia in the office surgical suite. One of our surgical nurses will review your medical history and discuss important points about your specific skin cancer and the MMS procedure. The site of the tumor is then cleaned, marked, and numbed. A thin layer of tissue is removed. A dressing will be placed, and you will be escorted back to the waiting room. While there, you may relax, eat, drink, and visit with family/friends. Your surgeon will draw a map to correspond exactly to the wound which has been made. The tissue which was removed is immediately taken to the lab, where it is cut into sections, placed on slides, stained, and returned to the surgeon for interpretation. Your surgeon will then view the slides under the microscope, determine if cancer is still present, and illustrate the site and amount of the remaining cancer on the map. This process requires 30-90 minutes. If any remaining tumor is noted, you will return to the operating room, where additional tissue will be removed only where the cancer persists. This tissue is again mapped, prepared, and interpreted. This process continues until the entire tumor has been removed. Although all patients hope to be cleared of a tumor with a single stage, the average number of stages for a given tumor is two or three. Once the entire tumor has been removed, MMS has concluded, and the process of reconstruction begins. Following the reconstructive procedure, you will be given explicit written and verbal instructions regarding activity restrictions, wound care, medication usage, and what to expect during the postoperative period. For more information on Mohs Surgery, visit www.mohssurgery.org