Mohs surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in a dermatologist’s office or outpatient surgical suite. You remain awake during Mohs, and are given a local anesthetic to numb the surgical area. The use of a local anesthetic instead of general anesthesia, which puts the patient to sleep, reduces recovery time and has fewer side effects.
If you are concerned about discomfort during the procedure, ask your Mohs surgeon if a mild sedative or additional pain reliever can be provided to make you feel more comfortable.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the Mohs surgeon removes the visible skin cancer. The tissue that is removed is examined under a microscope by the Mohs surgeon to determine if there are any cancer cells remaining at the outer edges of the removed tissue. During this time, you remain in the surgical suite or office.
If cancer cells are still present at any edge of the removed tissue, the Mohs surgeon will continue to cut out additional layers of skin or underlying affected tissue until the cancer cells are no longer seen. This technique allows for the complete removal of the skin cancer, yet minimizes the removal of healthy skin. In most cases, Mohs surgery can be completed within a day or less.