Skin Cancer Surgery

Have you been diagnosed with a skin cancer of the face, scalp, neck or other cosmetically sensitive area? Mohs Micrographic Surgery is the most advanced surgical treatment for skin cancers that occur in areas where preservation of tissue is important. It also achieves the highest cure rate of all surgical skin cancer procedures.  We are Central Alberta’s only non-hospital surgical facility approved to perform this procedure.  This is an insured service that is covered for patients with Alberta health care coverage.

What to Expect

The area to be treated is first cleaned. A local anesthetic is then administered. The area that is obviously diseased tissue will first be removed followed by a small layer of normal appearing tissue. This is then processed in the lab. A dressing is placed on the surgical site and you will then return to the waiting room. While you relax in a private waiting area, the tissue is then processed in our on-site laboratory. The tissue is mounted on slides and stained with special dyes to highlight skin cancer cells. Your slides are then reviewed by Dr. Day to determine if there is any evidence of residual cancer. If cancer cells are found in the tissue specimen margins, the technique is repeated to remove another layer of tissue. Tissue specimens are removed and examined until the cancer cells are totally removed. Once all the cancer has been removed, you will be brought back into the surgery room. In many instances, the surgical repair can be performed immediately. Occasionally arrangement for repair will be made for another time. Your surgeon will discuss the options of how best to proceed with reconstruction.

Each step in Mohs Micrographic Surgery requires meticulous technique and cannot be rushed. It takes approximately 90 minutes to process the pathology slides for each stage of tissue removal and one hour for the surgical repair. Depending on the size, location and type of skin cancer you have, the processing time will vary from patient to patient.

You can expect to be present at the office for most of the day. We recommend you wear comfortable clothing, bring reading material and and a snack.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mohs Surgery

I cannot see the skin cancer after the initial biopsy was performed do I still need Mohs surgery?

Yes. The biopsy does not remove the skin cancer, it merely identifies the type of skin cancer present. In order to reduce the inevitable recurrence of the skin cancer Mohs surgery will still be necessary even if the biopsy site has healed well.

Do I need to have someone to drive me home after surgery?

As surgical times can vary it is best to be prepared. We strongly recommend you have someone escort you from the clinic on the procedure day. If you choose not to have a chaperone it would be against our medical advice.

How long will my surgery take?

The length of time depends on how long it takes to remove your skin cancer entirely and then reconstruct the affected area. Most individuals can expect to be in the surgical centre for approximately 6 hours. We recommend you bring a lunch and reading material. You will be provided a personal locker for your convenience.

Can I leave the surgical centre during my wait time?

No, patients undergoing Mohs micrographic surgery are not permitted to leave the premises during their procedure.

How do I take care of the surgical site?

Detailed instructions regarding wound care will be provided to you after your surgery. If any questions arise, do not hesitate to call our office for assistance. You can prepare for your surgery by having gauze, paper tape, antimicrobial ointment and tylenol at home.  We would recommend you download the Mohs surgery tip sheet at the bottom of the page.

How can I manage the discomfort after surgery?

After any surgery, there may be some discomfort; it is rare for you to require anything other than Tylenol and an icepack. Generally, we recommend you avoid Ibuprofen as this may increase your bleeding risk. If you are having significant problems, contact the emergency number provided at our office.

How long should I refrain from exercise after surgery?

This depends on the location and type of surgery. We will discuss this with you after your procedure. It is generally advisable to avoid vigorous exercise for seven days after your surgery.

Where do I go for follow up?

Typically, we like to see all our patients in follow up for suture removal. Occasionally some of our patients will travel long distances for this specialized procedure. In these instances, due to travel constraints, patients will have their sutures removed by their local physician. A follow up appointment will occur within 3 months of the surgical procedure. At that appointment, plans for future skin cancer screening will be arranged.

I had a good experience with my skin cancer surgery and have a friend or family member I would like to refer. How do they get an appointment for consultation?

All patients treated at Innovation Dermatology for skin cancer surgery by Mohs micrographic surgery or for skin cancer screening are referred by either a physician or another medical practitioner.


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