Mohs surgery is the most effective technique for removing Basal Cell (BCC) and Squamous Cell (SCC), the two most common types of skin cancer. It not only removes all the cancer cells, but does so while sparing the greatest amount of healthy tissue around the cancer. Many Mohs surgeries are performed every year, and patients undergoing these procedures can benefit from knowing what to expect and how to prevent scarring afterwards. The procedure is named after Dr. Frederick Mohs, the physician who developed the process. Another major benefit is that this procedure can result in smaller scars, since the cancer is removed in layers rather than healthy skin being removed from the surrounding area.
Removal of skin cancers using Mohs surgery leaves behind a wound that is typically closed with stitches. If the surrounding skin does not offer enough mobility for stitches to be a viable option, then a skin graft may be used. This means that skin is taken from another area of the body and used to cover the wound. Alternatively, a skin “flap” may be used, in which the skin is shifted and moved in such a way that then allows stitches to be used. Finally, in certain cases, the wound can simply be left to heal on its own, although this can take a significant amount of time and generally results in a scar that is the same shape as the original wound.
When stitches are used, they are usually removed about a week after the procedure, leaving a scar that will continue to heal over time. There may also be bruising on the face which goes away within a few days. Scars from this procedure can vary, depending on the size of the area treated and the method of closure of the wound used. Mohs surgery scars may be small and inconspicuous and camouflaged by the face’s natural creases or wrinkles, or they may be larger and much more apparent.
There is no way to guarantee an optimal scar, but there are things you can do to minimize the appearance of yours and help it fade and become much less noticeable over time. A silicone-based scar treatment used from the time the wound heals can help avoid hypertrophic scars. Silicone has also been proven to help lighten and flatten scars – even old scars – so whether your Mohs surgery scar is new or you’ve had it for a while, this type of scar therapy can be effective at minimizing it.
Sometimes laser skin resurfacing may be used to improve the appearance of facial scars, but remember that these procedures work by creating a new wound, and a scar treatment is still needed for the best possible results.
Most Mohs surgery patients heal without complications. Following your surgeon’s instructions for wound care is essential, as this will help you prevent infection. Preventing infection is important not just for health reasons, but also to minimize your final scar. Infection causes inflammation, increased wound size, and ultimately, a worse scar.
If you have to undergo Mohs surgery for skin cancer, don’t worry – just be sure to ask your doctor any questions you can think of and follow his or her directions for wound care. Incorporate a scar therapy program into your daily routine, including a scar treatment containing silicone, massage, not smoking, and avoiding sun exposure for the best-looking outcome possible.
Have a question about your scar? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.
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