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MOHS - Surgery

With increased exposure to the sun's harmful rays, skin cancer is a growing concern.

Skin cancers usually appear on skin that has been chronically exposed to the sun like the face, neck, arms, and chest, but you can get skin cancer anywhere like on the scalp, ears, hands and feet. Even skin that rarely is exposed to the sun can be at risk.

The main cancer types are Basal cell, Squamous cell, Actinic Keratosis and Melanoma (the most deadly skin cancer if not caught early).

An outpatient surgical procedure called MOHS Surgery or MicroGraphic Surgery is a technique your dermatologist might consider. The procedure is normally performed in the surgeon's or dermatologist's office using local anesthesia and can normally be completed the same day of your visit.

The procedure uses very thin slices of frozen skin tissue that are subject to microscopic examination. The surgeon removes very small slices that are examined under the microscope until all cancerous tissue is removed. The wound is then repaired with reconstructive surgery. Large wounds require stitches and extensive surgery may require a skin graft. Follow up appointments are important to monitor progress and healing.

About the MOHS procedure. The Micro-graphic-surgical procedure was developed by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs. The procedure is used to precisely identify and remove skin cancer cells layer by layer while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact and unharmed.

MOHS surgery is performed by dermatologists that are specially trained in surgery, pathology and skin reconstruction.

MOHS surgeons are assisted by highly trained MOHS lab technicians that section, prepare and stain the tissue specimen slides for examination to insure the surgeon has removed all cancerous skin cells. The Mohs surgeon and Mohs tech use "Mohs Frozen Section" histology lab processing to examine the entire surgical margin of the skin specimen for cancer cells.

The specialized surgical and lab techniques applied in the Mohs procedure have resulted in MOHS surgery having the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer and is the recommended treatment for face and other sensitive areas.

Things you can do to help prevent skin cancer:

Minimize sun exposure from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM when the sun's rays are the strongest. These are known as "peak hours". Do your best to avoid direct sun exposure during these peak hours. If your profession or hobbies require outdoor activity like a tour guide, park ranger, police officer, life-guard and farmer - or you enjoy boating, swimming, tennis, golfing, gardening, running, walking, try your best to schedule these activities outside of these "peak sun hours."

Remember that both UVA and UVB radiation are major contributors to skin damage - causing sunburn and wrinkles (photo-aging) by breaking down collagen, creating free radicals, and inhibiting the natural repair mechanisms of the skin. Daily use of an SPF 15 sunscreen has been shown to be effective in preventing skin damage.

Use Sunscreen Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater at least one half hour before going outdoors and reapply as directed on the product label. Use products that contain broad-spectrum sunscreen ingredients like avobenzone, titanium dioxide and / or zinc oxide. There are excellent moisturizing sunscreens for dry skin and oil free, hypoallergenic formulas for oily or acne-prone skin. Use makeup and cosmetics with SPF, and tinted moisturizers or sunless tanning lotion with SPF 15 or higher. Avoid using UV beds at tanning salons.

Important factors to consider with sunscreens are the: ingredients that block or absorb the wide spectrum of UV radiation; the amount of sunscreen applied; and the frequency of application. Sunscreen should be applied liberally to all sun-exposed areas so that it forms a film or a "glove of protection" when initially applied. Since it takes 20 to 30 minutes for a sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin, it should be applied at least a half an hour prior to going out in the sun. Reapply sunscreen every 30 to 60 minutes after being in the sun, after swimming, outdoor sports, sweating, or toweling.

Protect your lips with SPF lipstick or a lip balm containing sunscreen.

Wear broad-rimmed hats and protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts, and UV blocking sunglasses.

"This page is for informational and educational purposes only."

Important MOHS Surgery resources:


MOHS College MOHS Surgery on WIKI Skin Cancer & Surgery Info American Society for Mohs Surgery


Info about MOHS Surgery - Micrographic Surgery - MOHS Micrographic Skin Surgery

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