A Mohs surgical procedure requires extreme precision and uses pathology to help obtain the best results. It is one of the most detailed procedures used in the treatment of skin cancer. The procedure was designed to excise as much of the tumor or diseased tissue as possible while leaving the surrounding tissue untouched. Extremely thin, saucer-shaped layers of tissue are removed one at a time and checked under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present. Slices will continue to be removed until no cancer cells or damaged tissues are present. The doctor will excise two or three "clean" layers of tissue to ensure that all of the cancer has been effectively removed.
In the past, doctors would surgically remove or excise the entire tumor or lesion all at one time. This method was effective at removing the lesion, but it caused damage to the surrounding tissues which in turn led to excessive scarring. It also caused trauma to the tissues below the surface of the skin. With the Mohs surgery, the surrounding tissues suffer much less damage and the resulting wound will heal much faster than a gaping area that needs to be stitched closed. When the traditional method is used, there is also the risk that a few cancer cells may be left behind. With the Mohs procedure, each section of tissue is thoroughly examined to ensure there are no cancer cells present.
Because a Mohs surgical procedure removes only very thin layers of tissue, there is less damage to the tissues surrounding the tumor or lesion. The layers of tissue that are removed with each incision are thoroughly checked for cells that are abnormal or cancerous. This prevents the removal of healthy tissue that could result in heavy scarring in certain areas. While there may be some scarring over the area of the tumor, it will be much less than if the entire tumor and surrounding tissues were removed in one large section. Areas that have had a tumor removed with the Mohs Surgery will also heal much faster than those that were excised through more traditional types of surgery.
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