If you’ve been diagnosed with, or suspect that you may have a form of skin cancer, you may have a number of worries. As well as the health concerns that come with a cancer diagnosis, you may also worry that the procedure used to remove your cancer may not be effective or may result in significant scarring. Our highly-skilled plastic surgeons at Columbus Facial Plastics at The Sullivan Centre in Columbus, OH work together as a team to ensure that you receive the most effective surgical solutions, such as Mohs surgery.
What Is the Success Rate of Mohs Surgery?
This type of surgery is an excellent treatment choice, especially for deep and large skin cancers. It has a high success rate of as much as 98-99%. It is effective for preserving as much healthy skin as possible, and in minimizing the appearance of surgical scars.
What Is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is a minimally-invasive skin cancer treatment with a high success rate. It was first developed in the 1930s by a general surgeon named Dr. Frederic Mohs. It was a groundbreaking treatment at the time and is still the best way to treat many types of skin cancer. Mohs is considered to be both effective and very safe.
If you’re looking for a leading treatment for various skin cancers, Mohs is one of the highly recommended solutions you can count on. It is especially useful for treating cancer types that have a high risk of recurrence, or those that have renewed after a previous round of surgery. A unique benefit of this procedure is that it also allows you to keep as much healthy skin as possible, and avoid any unnecessary tissue damage.
The Difference Between Mohs and Traditional Surgery
Are you wondering why the success rate of Mohs surgery is above 98%? Compared to traditional excisions, it can remove up to 100% of the skin cancer. Traditional procedures are only able to examine 1% under a microscope. For this reason, Mohs is considered to be the gold standard for skin cancer treatment. It is also more cost-effective compared to traditional surgical strategies.
How the Procedure Works
Specially trained surgeons perform this outpatient procedure. Typically, it involves multiple rounds of examination and removal that can take several hours. You can rest assured that your time spent will be worth it because we’ll examine 100% of your skin tissues. We aim to leave untouched as much healthy skin tissues as possible, minimizing the appearance of any scar tissues.
With a high success rate of over 98%, this surgical option rarely requires any follow-up visits. Tissue removal, examination, and wound reconstruction are all performed in one appointment. It will also not be necessary for you to be asleep for the surgery.
Precise Removal of Skin Tissue and Tumor
First, we examine the cancerous areas that require treatment. This helps us to precisely and progressively remove cancerous tissues while preserving healthy skin cells. We inject a local anesthetic before starting the surgery. The first layer of cancerous tissue is removed and is examined in the lab. We also clean and dress the treatment area, so you can comfortably wait for the lab results.
We prepare for the second round of surgery. During the lab examination, we study and map the remaining cancer cells. This will properly guide us to the next process, which involves the further removal of malignant tissues.
Continuous Removal and Examination
We continue the process of removing tissue samples until the area has become clear and cancer-free. We close your wound stitches or perform a skin graft when necessary. Aftercare instructions will be given to you. In most cases, you should be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
After a week or two, your stitches should be ready for removal. Within the next four to six weeks, you’ll be focusing on recovery and wait for the wound to heal completely.
What Types of Skin Cancers Are There?
This form of surgery can successfully treat many types of skin cancers. These illnesses occur when there is an abnormal growth of skin cells. Most often, they develop in areas that receive the most sun exposure. But did you know that some forms of cancer can also occur in areas that are barely exposed to sunlight? In the early stages of skin cancer, you may notice the appearance of firm red nodules, which may bleed or develop crusts.
Sores that don’t heal and are found on the nose, ears, forehead, lower lip, and hands may also be forms of skin cancer. There are four common types of skin cancer, which can all be treated through Mohs surgery.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cells are a type of cell within our skin tissues. They generate new skin cells as old ones disintegrate. When these basal cells become unhealthy, they cause basal cell carcinoma. This condition usually causes the appearance of a slightly transparent bump on the skin. At first, you might observe them as small, “pearly” bumps that look like a mole or pimple. Some types look dark, shiny pink, or scaly red patches.
About 80% of basal cell carcinoma develops in highly visible and sun-exposed areas such as the head and neck. Basal cell carcinoma cells usually do not grow beyond the original tumor site. However, when left untreated, they can be aggressive, grow quite large, and become disfiguring and dangerous. Soon, these cells can develop deep into the skin and destroy tissue and bone.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cells compose the middle and outer layers, or epidermis, of the skin tissue. This type of skin cancer is usually not life-threatening, though it can become aggressive without the right care and treatment. In worse cases, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can grow into larger sizes or quickly spread to other body parts. It can cause serious complications. Your healthy tissues, lymph nodes, or other organs can become destroyed or affected.
When cancer cells have grown large and deep, you run the risk of developing aggressive squamous cell carcinoma. Inflamed and injured skin are also at higher risk for developing this condition. Early treatment with Mohs surgery can cure 95-98% of squamous cell carcinomas. Unfortunately, when cancer has spread to other body parts, less than half of those with this condition live for more than five years.
Paget’s Disease is a less common type of skin cancer which is usually found around the anus and genital areas of both men and women. Postmenopausal women with this condition usually have cancer cells on the vulva. Cancer cells appear as asymmetrical, red, or pink, scaly patches on the skin. This condition is often misdiagnosed as inflammatory dermatosis. Paget’s disease doesn’t worsen fast, but it can take many years before you can develop visible symptoms.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Flesh-colored or purplish-red nodules, often appearing on the face, head, or neck, are the typical signs of Merkel cell carcinoma. It is a type of skin cancer that develops in people of old age. Urgent treatment and diagnosis are important for those who might have this condition. Merkel cell carcinoma has a high risk of recurring and metastasizing. Individualized treatments are recommended based on your general health and the depth, size, and location of the tumor.
Within a few years after diagnosis, cancer cells may grow quickly and spread to lymph nodes and other body parts. Keep an eye on the appearance of lumps, abnormal growths, and moles on your skin. In the worst cases, the lungs, liver, brain, bones, or other organs can be affected by Merkel cell carcinoma. The functioning of these organs can be hampered by the cancer cells. Surgical treatments are the first option for those who have this type of cancer.
Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP)
Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans develop in the connective tissue cells in the dermis or the inner layer of the skin. At first, you may notice the appearance of seemingly harmless bruises or scars. But when the malignant tissues grow, they become lumps that form close to the surface of your skin. The cancers, when left untreated, may affect skin, fat, muscle, and other body tissues, although this happens very rarely.
Thanks to Mohs surgery, the recurrence rates for DFSP have significantly decreased. The exact cause of this condition may be traced to injuries in the affected skin. When they are first diagnosed, DFSP may be categorized as either localized, advanced, or metastatic. People with localized sarcomas have high survival rates, that’s why it’s beneficial to diagnose this condition as early as possible. Additional therapy and follow-ups after surgical removal show the best results.
A serious form of skin cancer that often develops in sun-exposed areas is melanoma. It is less common compared to other types such as BCC and SCC but is significantly more dangerous. In as little as 6 weeks, it can rapidly spread to other organs when not given adequate treatment. Melanomas appear as brown, black, tan, or even white spots or firm bumps the size of a pencil eraser. They may be flat or raised, and irregular in shape.
In men, melanomas commonly start in the chest or back areas. Women with melanoma typically develop the condition on their legs. Melanomas can go away without treatment, but they can also grow quickly and destroy blood vessels and lymph nodes. Keep an eye for symptoms such as painful lymph nodes, difficulty breathing, and persistent coughing. As soon as you suspect that you may have melanoma, we highly recommend that you seek proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options with a highly-skilled medical professional.
What Should You Expect After the Procedure?
Mohs surgery has high success rates and is minimally invasive. However, it still requires aftercare and proper wound treatment. After removing your cancerous lesions, we may also perform reconstructive plastic surgery. Reconstruction typically involves bone, cartilage, and tissue grafting. A pressure dressing is used to cover and protect the treated areas for the next 24 hours.
A week after your surgery, we will recommend you limit physical activities and strenuous exercise. This is important in making sure that your surgical wounds heal quickly. Proper care also prevents damage to your stitches, which can be removed within 10 days after the procedure. For wound care, you can gently remove scabs with the use of soap and water. Vaseline can also help keep the area moist and prevent it from drying out and becoming itchy.
Learn More About Skin Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis
Undergoing surgery can make anyone feel anxious, scared, or even worried. But with the right knowledge and patient education, you can become more comfortable and feel more prepared at the right time. Contact Columbus Facial Plastics at The Sullivan Centre in Columbus, OH today to learn more about skin cancer treatment and surgical solutions. We are proud to provide you with information that empowers you to make the best decisions.