Cancer is one of the scariest diseases. While some forms of cancer are more dangerous than others, all of them can be lethal. Skin cancer seems less harmless but can have severe consequences if left untreated. A possible treatment option often used is skin cancer surgery, called Mohs surgery.

What is Skin Cancer?

Cancer happens when your cells continue to multiply uncontrollably. This overgrowth can lead to tumours. ‘Getting your moles checked’ is a preventative measure many people trust. But did you know your moles are not necessarily indicative of a cancerous condition? Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It takes less than two months to become life-threatening and should be surgically removed as soon as possible.

On the other hand, non-melanoma skin cancers are less threatening. They can present themselves through lumps under the skin or sores that refuse to heal.

What is Mohs Surgery?

This is another name for skin cancer surgery. Mohs surgery involves the removal of thin layers of skin. The surgeon evaluates each layer of skin for cancer and stops cutting layers of the skin when no cancer is found. This sounds tremendously painful, but, like other surgical procedures, Mohs surgery is performed under anaesthesia.

It effectively removes cancers that tend to keep coming back and increasing essentially. This type of surgery is preferred for parts of the body like the ears, eyes, hands, mouth and genitals since it preserves as much healthy tissue as possible.

Risks Involved

The risks involved in Mohs surgery are the same as in any other surgical procedure, which means the chances of encountering these issues are minimal. You might see some bleeding where tissue has been removed or tenderness around the area, but you will likely be given medicine for the same.

You might experience some numbness surrounding the area if nerve endings are damaged. You might also not be able to perform the complete motor function in the concerned limb or part of the body. However, contrary to popular myth, your nervous system is plastic and sensation and motor ability will soon return.

Preparing for the Procedure

Since you will be put under anaesthesia, the doctor will brief you on how to prepare on the day of the surgery. You might be asked to remain empty-stomached, but most people are allowed to eat on the day. You might also be asked to skip certain medications for a while before and after the surgery.

While Mohs surgery usually does not take that long because it requires careful evaluation on the doctor’s part, you might need to clear your schedule for the whole day. You must also wear comfortable clothing and bring some entertainment (music or a book) to the hospital/clinic. Ask a close relative to accompany you on the day so they can drive you back.

After the Procedure

The surgeon might use stitches to close wounds if cancer had spread too much. Sometimes, they might use skin from another part of the body, such as behind the ear, to cover up the wound. While you should experience some soreness after skin cancer surgery, it should not be unbearable. You might need to wear a bandage for a few days or weeks, and you should care for it like any typical injury. Post-surgery infections can happen if you do not maintain your hygiene. Ask your doctor how to clean yourself and take care of the wound.