Mohs surgery is effective in treating skin cancer as it removes the cancerous layers of the skin piece by piece until there is are no cancerous cells, according to Mayo Clinic. The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove as much of the cancer as possible while protecting the surrounding healthy skin.
Mohs surgery occurs on an outpatient basis, and the procedure lasts for about four hours, explains Mayo Clinic. Since it can be difficult to determine how deep the cancer extends into the skin, doctors may advise setting aside the entire day. Before the procedure, the nurse or surgeon cleans the area, outlines it, and then injects it with an anesthetic to numb the skin.
During the procedure, the surgeon removes the skin layer by layer and examines it for cancer before moving on to the next layer, states Mayo Clinic. Between the removals, the surgeon takes the skin to an on-site lab and examines it for cancerous cells. The procedure continues until the surgeon removes a layer of skin that is free of cancer. Depending on how deep the cancer went into the layers of skin, the surgeon may allow the surgery site to heal on its own or may use stitches to close the wound. Alternatively, the surgeon may use a skin graft or flap from another area.