Mohs surgery is a way to treat and cure certain skin cancers. Surgeons trained in the Mohs procedure can do this surgery. It allows skin cancer to be removed with less damage to the healthy skin around it.
Mohs surgery usually takes place in the doctor's office. The surgery is started early in the morning and is done in one day. Sometimes if the tumor is big or you need reconstruction, it could take 2 visits.
During the procedure, the Mohs surgeon removes the cancer one layer of skin at a time until all the cancer has been removed. The surgeon will:
Mohs surgery can be used for most skin cancers, such as basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers. For many skin cancers, other simpler procedures can be used.
Mohs surgery may be preferred when the skin cancer is on an area where:
Mohs surgery may also be preferred when:
Mohs surgery is generally safe. With Mohs surgery, you do not need to be put asleep (general anesthesia) as you would with other surgeries.
While rare, these are some risks for this surgery:
Your doctor will explain what you should do to prepare for your surgery. You may be asked to:
Taking proper care of your wound after surgery will help your skin look its best. Your doctor will talk with you about your options:
Mohs surgery has a 99% cure rate in treating skin cancer.
With this surgery, the smallest amount of tissue possible is removed. You will have a smaller scar than you might have with other treatment options.
National Cancer Institute: PDQ Skin Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified July 20, 2012. Available at:
Upjohn E, Taylor RS. Mohs surgery. Rigel: Cancer of the Skin. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 47.
Last reviewed on: 12/2/2014
Reviewed by: Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.