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Here’s What to Expect During Your Mohs Surgery

Here’s What to Expect During Your Mohs Surgery

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Though this month generally reminds people that summer is approaching and you must protect your skin from cancer-causing sunlight, life is different here in Florida.

Spending time in the Florida sun is a year-round activity, making sunscreen an essential part of your daily routine. You should always watch for signs of cancer growth — like new skin spots and changes in existing lesions — and schedule a skin exam at the first sign of a suspicious growth.

What if skin cancer develops? Early treatment from skilled plastic surgeon Rafael C. Cabrera, MD, FACS, at Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton can lead to a complete cure.

He specializes in removing skin cancer using Mohs micrographic surgery, the gold standard of care because it produces a five-year cure rate of 99% for new cancers and 95% for recurrent skin cancer.

Types of skin cancer

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes the three primary types of skin cancer, whether you catch the UV rays from natural sunlight or tanning beds.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

BCC, the most common skin cancer, may look like a pink, tan, or brown bump, begin as a scaly patch of skin, or cause a sore that bleeds and crusts over. This type spreads slowly and seldom metastasizes, but it can destroy a fair amount of the surrounding skin if you don’t get treatment.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

SCC, the second most common skin cancer, can grow deep into the tissues, damaging anything in its path, including nerves and muscles. This type typically begins as dry, rough patches of skin known as actinic keratosis.


Melanoma can spread throughout your body, making it the top cause of skin cancer deaths. This type may begin in an existing mole or appear as a new lesion resembling a mole.

Candidates for Mohs surgery

When removing skin cancer, Mohs preserves more healthy skin surrounding the lesion than any other treatment. This quality makes it a great choice when the cancer’s location affects your appearance — such as on your face or nose — or a functional structure like your eyelids.

Dr. Cabrera often uses Mohs surgery to treat:

Mohs surgery can also treat early-stage melanoma, before it spreads, but you can’t get same-day results because the tissues require special staining.

Mohs surgery explained

Traditional surgery for skin cancer involves cutting out, or excising, the entire lesion together with a layer of the surrounding tissue. Then, the tissue goes to the pathology lab, and you wait a week or longer to learn whether the cancer was completely removed.

If not, you must return to the office so your doctor can remove another layer of the surrounding skin. Then it goes to the lab, and you wait again.

During Mohs surgery, we do all of the lab work in the office. After removing the cancer with a thin layer of the surrounding tissues, we carefully section and color-code the tissue sample and put reference marks on your skin.

These marks allow us to map the tissue sample and identify each section's location before being cut out.

You relax in the office while we do the lab work. We cut the tissue into thin slices, examine them under the microscope, and determine whether we removed all of the cancer cells.

If you're cancer-free, you can go home, confident that you're healthy.

If we see signs that some cancer is still in your skin, the mapping allows us to target the area where cancer cells remain and precisely remove that small area of skin while excising the least amount of noncancerous tissue.

Once again, you relax while we examine the tissues. We keep repeating this process until we eliminate all of your skin cancer. 

By the time you leave the office, you can breathe a sigh of relief because you know your results. You don’t need to wait on pins and needles while an outside lab does the work.

Do you want to learn more about skin cancer or Mohs surgery performed by a highly regarded plastic surgeon? Call Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton today to schedule a consultation.

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