ABC7’s The More in the Morning team spoke with Dr. Michael K. Kim, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, about Mohs Surgery, a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains.
The ability to see where the cancer stops gives Mohs (pronounced Moes) two important advantages:
- Mohs surgery has a high cure rate
- Mohs allows you to keep as much healthy skin as possible because the surgeon only removes the skin with cancer cells. This is especially important when skin cancer develops in an area with little tissue beneath (eyelid, ear, hand, foot, or genitals).
When is Mohs Surgery appropriate?
Most Mohs patients have a common type of skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). It's usually recommended when the skin cancer is aggressive or large, appears in an area with little tissue beneath it, or it has been treated in the past and come back.
No matter what type of skin cancer you have, Mohs is only recommended for certain patients. You must have one skin cancer or a few skin cancers that are very close together.
Occasionally, doctors will recommend Mohs surgery for treating melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Mohs is only used to treat an early melanoma, and it must be a type of melanoma called lentigo malignant melanoma. This type of melanoma stays close to the surface of the skin for a while.
Who can perfrom Mohs Surgery?
Generally, the only doctors who perform Mohs surgeries are dermatologists. When Mohs surgery has been recommended, many people worry about scarring. The Mohs surgery requires the doctor to cut away the diseased tissue a bit at a time. Sometimes the area can be quite large even without visible marks on the skin. Knowing this, it can be devastating to get the news that you need this procedure.
For this reason, some people want a board-certified plastic surgeon to assist with the procedure. Unfortunately, most plastic surgeons are not trained in the Mohs procedure, however, Dr. Michael K. Kim does a lot of Mohs closure once the cancer is removed.