Preparing for Mohs Surgery

Preparing for Surgery

Even though Mohs surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, it still carries risks. For the best outcome possible, please do the following beforehand:

Two Weeks Beforehand

  • Medications: Unless your doctor says otherwise, do not take aspirin or other over-the-counter pain medication except Tylenol (acetaminophen). Aspirin and other pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) act as blood thinners and increase bleeding.
  • If you take blood thinners (for example, Coumadin), get your most recent INR (blood-clotting factor). Please call us with this information.
  • Vitamins and herbal supplements: Avoid them as some increase bleeding or bruising. Vitamin E, ginkgo, garlic and other products increase the risk of bleeding complications. Keep taking other medications prescribed by your doctor. If you have questions, please ask us.
  • Stop smoking! Smoking increases your risk of complications from surgery and can delay your healing time.

Day of Surgery

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages for 24 hours before surgery because alcohol can increase bleeding.
  • Have someone drive you home, especially if you require a sedative.
  • Eat a normal breakfast and take your normal medications.
  • Bring snacks and a lunch along.
  • Do not wear makeup (if facial surgery is planned).
  • Dress in layers and/or bring a blanket as the office can be chilly.

The surgeon will numb the area around the skin cancer and remove what is visible. The tissue then will be mapped, coded and brought to our on-site lab to examine.

This process (called “stages”) will be repeated until all cancer is removed. Although we cannot predict before surgery how many stages will be needed, most cases require no more than three.

Mohs surgery is performed in our outpatient facility, and patients return home the same day.

About the Procedure

The surgical procedure lasts only 10 to 15 minutes. However, it can take up to two hours to examine the tissue removed at each stage. Thus, please make no other commitments the day of surgery. While magazines and Wi-Fi are available, you may want to bring other materials to pass the time while waiting.

Will the surgery leave a scar?
Yes. Any form of treatment will leave a scar. However, because Mohs surgery removes as little normal tissue as possible, scarring is minimal.

Several options are available to close the wound:

  • Allow the wound to heal by itself
  • Repair the wound with stitches
  • Reconstruct the wound with a flap or graft
  • Refer you to a plastic surgeon

What should I expect after surgery?
You will have bandages and some discomfort for a few days. Usually, one or two return visits are needed to remove stitches and monitor healing. Afterward, you can return to your own doctor for routine check-ups.

A follow-up period of at least five years is essential. After having skin cancer, statistics show that you are at increased risk of developing more skin cancer. Skin examinations should be performed once or twice a year to evaluate the treated area and to check for new skin cancers.

The best protection from skin cancer is to avoid the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

For additional information about Mohs, visit American College of Mohs Surgery.