The Mohs micrographic surgery procedure for skin cancer involves repeated surgical removal of thin layers of skin for examination under a microscope until no evidence of cancer cells remains, explains UCSF School of Medicine. Doctors use Mohs surgery to treat complex basal and squamous cell carcinomas and some superficial melanomas.
Mohs micrographic surgery begins with administration of local anesthesia to numb the area, according to UCSF School of Medicine. The surgeon scrapes away a layer of skin using a curette, and the tissue is processed and stained before being examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells. If cancer cells remain on the tissue margins, the surgeon repeats the surgical procedure and examination of tissue. This sequence of events continues until there is no evidence of cancer cells in the margins of the excised sample. The surgeon then undertakes reconstruction of the area to preserve function and aesthetics.
Mohs micrographic surgery is often the surgery of choice for skin cancer on the face because it preserves the maximum amount of tissue and provides superior cosmetic results, notes UCSF School of Medicine. It has a 99 percent cure rate for new cancers and a 95 percent cure rate for recurrent lesions.