Submitted by Clevens Face & Body Specialists, a One Senior Place Resident Business

Clevens Face and Body Specialists Logo -FINAL High Res TM_08052013Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the country. Every year, more than two million people are diagnosed with more than 3.5 million skincancers. While you might think of melanoma when you hear “skin cancer,” there are actually several different types, and some are more common than melanoma. No matter the type of cancer, the course of treatment usually involves removing the tumor.

Depending on the surgical treatment used, tumor removal can leave a significant scar. One method of removing skin cancer, known as Mohs surgery, is designed to leave as much healthy skin as possible intact, reducing the size of the scar or deformity that is left behind. Mohs surgery is often ideal for tumors that appear on the face, as patients usually want to preserve their appearance as much as possible.

The History of Mohs Surgery

The Mohs surgical procedure is named for the surgeon who developed it, Dr. Frederic Mohs. At first, he called it “chemosurgery,” as the procedure relied on the use of chemicals, such as zinc chloride to fix the skin before it was removed. He mixed the zinc chloride with the mineral stibnite and with bloodroot, forming a paste. The paste was then spread over the area to be treated.

After the skin had absorbed enough of the paste to reduce bleeding, Dr. Mohs would cut away a small section of it, divide that section into pieces, attach each piece to a slide, then examine them under a microscope to look for cancer. If cancer was found on a section of the removed tissue, the surgeon would then remove an additional layer from the skin, but only in the part of the skin that corresponded to the area where the cancer was found. The surgeon would repeat the process of removing tissue until all the samples examined under the microscope were found to be tumor-free. The end goal of the procedure was to remove cancerous tissue but leave as much healthy skin as possible intact.

Initially, Mohs surgery was a time consuming process, as the patient and surgeon would need to wait hours for the paste to fix the skin. Eventually, Dr. Mohs found that he was able to skip the paste step and perform the surgery on “fresh tissue,” which sped up the process but kept the same results, namely a high rate of cure.

Where It Is Performed

Mohs surgery can be performed anywhere on the body and to treat a number of different types of skin cancer. But it’s most commonly performed on areas that are delicate, or where preserving as much of the healthy tissue as possible is important, such as on the face and hands. The surgery is also particularly beneficial when used to treat tumors that are unusually large or that have a higher risk of recurrence, as it ensures the removal of all of the  cancer while leaving the surrounding area untouched.

Most commonly, the procedure is performed on basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. It can also be used to remove melanomas, the most fatal form of skin cancer. When Mohssurgery is performed on basal cell carcinomas, the rate of recurrence is around 1 percent. The rate of recurrence for squamous cell carcinomas removed with Mohs is less than 5 percent.

Finding a Surgeon

Not every surgeon performs Mohs surgery. It’s important to find a doctor who not only specializes in the procedure, but who also specializes in treating the area where the skin cancer is located. For example, Dr. Ross Clevens, is a plastic surgeon who specializes in facial plastic surgery, including nasal and eyelid surgery, and who has experience performing the procedure in those areas.

Getting Ready for Surgery

Although Mohs surgery might not take as long as it once did, it can still be a long procedure. The average procedure takes about four hours, though it is possible for it to take the entire day. It’s a good idea to have a book or other reading material to help you pass the time, or to have someone to talk to while waiting during the procedure.

In Brevard county, dermatologists often send patients to Dr. RossClevens when cases of skin cancer require more than just a biopsy to remove. A diagnosis of skin cancer can be scary. When you schedule surgery with a double board certified facial plastic surgeon specialist like Dr. Clevens, you have the assurance that you’ll receive the best treatment possible and the best outcome possible. To learn more about Mohs surgery and find out if it is the option for you, call 321-727-3223 today to schedule a consultation.