Mohs Surgery for Skin Cancer - The Minimally Invasive Gold Standard

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with skin cancer, you are among the 1.2 million Americans to hear this news each year. Your dermatologist may have a number of tools at hand to aid in your treatment, including standard excision, destruction, and even radiation therapy. For many skin cancers, however, including those on cosmetically sensitive areas such as the face, Mohs micrographic surgery may be the best treatment approach.

Knowing what to expect can assist in removing some of the anxiety and fear when receiving a diagnoses of skin cancer. We are here to help our patients by providing tools to allow you and your physician to design a custom treatment plan. Below are the most common questions regarding Mohs micrographic surgery. We encourage any patient considering this procedure as a treatment option to watch the short video, it explains the process and what the patient or family member can expect during surgery.

For further information on the Mohs surgery process, including infographics, visit the American College of Mohs Surgery website at:

What is Mohs micrographic surgery?

Originally pioneered by Dr. Frederic Mohs in the 1930s, Mohs micrographic surgery is an advanced technique in which the surgeon removes a skin cancer in thin, stepwise, map-guided layers, using a microscope to check for any remaining skin cancer cells at each stage during a single office visit. Most patients undergo reconstruction during this visit as well, with the entire procedure performed under local anesthesia.

How is Mohs surgery different than other approaches?

Mohs surgery is commonly referred to as the "gold standard" therapy for skin cancers because it results in the highest cure rate of any type of treatment for basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the skin.

Using this technique, the Mohs surgeon confirms under the microscope that your entire skin cancer has been completely removed during your single visit to the office.

Owing to its microscopically targeted, precise removal of fine layers of skin, the Mohs surgery technique conserves the greatest amount of nearby healthy tissue, while ensuring the skin cancer is entirely removed. This is particularly important on conspicuous areas such as the face.

Is Mohs surgery the right choice for me?

Given its high cure rate and minimally-invasive nature, Mohs surgery is the recommended treatment of choice for high-risk skin cancers, including many on the face, hands, and feet. It is also recommended for skin cancers with indistinct borders, those with certain growth patterns, larger low-risk skin cancers, and those that have recurred. Your dermatologist can help you understand if Mohs surgery is the best approach for your skin cancer.

Who are ACMS-trained Mohs surgeons?

Following dermatology residency training, Mohs surgeon members of the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) complete advanced fellowship training at ACMS-accredited training programs, with rigorous instruction in pathology (microscopic examination of skin cancer) and advanced, minimally-invasive surgical reconstructive techniques. Choosing a Mohs surgeon who has undertaken this specialized fellowship training in Mohs surgery can help provide you with the best possible outcome.