The benefits of Mohs surgery include less damage to healthy skin tissue and the ability to ensure all skin cancer cells are removed during the surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. Eliminating all of the cancer with one procedure helps to improve recovery chances and lessens the need for additional treatment.
Mohs is a precision surgical technique in which layers of skin are removed one at a time and examined on the spot for cancer cells, Mayo Clinic states. Layers are removed and examined until no cancer is found. Mohs surgery can be lengthy, ranging from around four hours to all day depending on the complexity of the tumor.
The tumor and surrounding skin are numbed so the patient does not feel the procedure, Mayo Clinic reports. The doctor starts by removing the cancerous area and a layer of skin underneath it. At that point the patient receives a temporary bandage and the doctor heads to the lab to look at the specimen. If cancer is found in the tissue underneath, the doctor continues taking additional skin samples until he finds tissue that is cancer-free.
Waiting for the doctor to come back with results from each sample is usually the longest part of the surgery, Mayo Clinic says. Patients should be prepared for long periods of waiting.