Turns out it might be skin cancer. Now, all you can think about is how removing it could leave a scar on your face. And maybe that’s why you put off getting it looked at in the first place. But it’s important not to wait. Early treatment is the most effective and can even help to reduce scarring. If you have early stage skin cancer (it hasn’t spread) on a sensitive or visible area like your face, Mohs surgery (Mohs micrographic surgery) might be an option.
Cleveland Clinic is here to ease your fears about skin cancer treatment. We know how to precisely and microscopically remove every bit of cancerous skin layer by layer — without harming healthy tissue. And we’ll make sure you have only minimal scarring by doing reconstruction, often during the same surgery.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Mohs Surgery and Reconstruction?
We recommend Mohs surgery and reconstruction on delicate, visible areas where we want to keep as much healthy tissue as possible. Our fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons will work to make your scar as unnoticeable as they can.
We know you might be worried about your skin cancer diagnosis and upcoming treatment. Our compassionate providers are here to support you and make sure you feel confident and informed — before, during and after treatment. Meet our team.
We remove the cancer and reconstruct your skin in a single visit. The process usually takes a few hours, and you can go home right after. You’ll have follow-up appointments to make sure you’re healing well.
We want your care to be as convenient as possible. That’s why the first visit with your provider and some follow-up visits may be done virtually. Virtual visits are an easy and safe way to get care from the comfort of home. All you need is an internet connection, smartphone, tablet or computer.
U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named us a top hospital in the world.
Mohs Surgery Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic
Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early. Our providers often use Mohs surgery to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma — especially in areas where you don’t want highly visible scarring, like your face, scalp, hands, feet or genitals.
Mohs surgery also works well if you have a large tumor, a tumor that’s growing deep into your skin or one that has ragged or blurry edges (borders). We might also recommend Mohs if other treatments haven’t worked, or if we think your skin cancer has a high chance of coming back.
When you first come to see us, we’ll look at your growth and the surrounding tissue. If you’ve already had a skin cancer diagnosis and a biopsy, we’ll go over the results. If you haven’t had a biopsy, we’ll do one during this visit.
We’ll carefully explain all of the risks and benefits of Mohs surgery and answer all your questions. Then, if you decide Mohs is right for you, we’ll schedule your surgery. Depending on your overall health and where your tumor is, you might need to take antibiotics before surgery and reconstruction to prevent infection.
Meet your team
At Cleveland Clinic, you’ll work with a care team that has advanced training in Mohs. Your team could include:
Who Treat Skin Cancer by Performing Mohs Surgery
Mohs Surgery Treatment at Cleveland Clinic
Mohs surgery is 99% effective as a first-time skin cancer treatment. This means the cancer rarely comes back.
You’ll have Mohs surgery and reconstruction in your provider’s office. You’ll be awake for the procedure, but you’ll be numb from a local anesthetic — so you might feel some pressure but no pain. And you can go home when we’re done.
How Mohs surgery works
First, we’ll remove any visible, raised areas of your tumor. Next, we’ll start removing one thin layer of cancerous tissue at a time, keeping as much healthy skin around it as possible. After we do this with each layer, we’ll look at it under a microscope to check for cancer and its exact location. If there are still cancer cells, we’ll keep removing layers until we can’t spot any more cancer under the microscope.
We’ll also create a map that helps us pinpoint what other tissue to remove and to make sure we’ve removed all the cancer. This careful process leads to excellent results and helps protect your healthy skin around the tumor.
Each round of tissue removal and testing takes about an hour. And the whole surgery can take several hours, depending on your tumor. You’ll rest comfortably in the procedure room or waiting room while we look at each layer of skin and check it for cancer. So be sure to bring something to read or an electronic device so you don’t get bored while you wait.
Skin reconstruction after Mohs surgery
After we remove the cancer cells, we’ll talk with you about next steps and healing. If it’s a small wound, it may heal on its own, or you may need stitches. Our team may use a skin flap (tissue from surrounding skin) or a skin graft (tissue from another area on your body) for larger wounds. Or we might use a combination of procedures for the best results.
Before you go home, we’ll bandage your wound. You’ll wear this bandage for 24 to 48 hours, or as directed by your care team. We’ll also let you know how to care for your wound at home. If you have sutures (stitches), you may need to come back to have them removed a week or two later, depending on the location of your surgery. You might notice a little bleeding or oozing for a few hours after surgery. This is normal, but call us if the bleeding doesn’t stop.
It can take between 12 and 18 months after surgery for your scar to fully heal, mature and start to fade. If you’re unhappy with the results, we can talk about other treatments for scars.
Taking the Next Step
Any cancer diagnosis and surgery can be stressful. But Cleveland Clinic providers can treat your skin cancer quickly — and precisely — with Mohs surgery and reconstruction. This delicate operation allows us to not only remove cancer cells but also reduce any scarring you might have. At Cleveland Clinic, we’re here to support you every step of the way, so you can feel good in your own healthy skin.
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