Mohs Surgery Clinic treats skin cancers and uncontrolled growth of cells in the skin. There are many kinds of skin cancer. The most common forms are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Most skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early.
Mohs surgery keeps as much normal tissue as they can. It offers the highest cure rate. Other treatments include excision, burning and scraping, prescribed creams, or radiation.
Preparing for Surgery
On the day of your surgery:
Do not wear any make-up (if the procedure is on your face).
Wear comfortable layered clothing.
You may eat regular meals on the day of surgery.
Take all routine medicines.
Take all your normal medicines, even blood thinners. If your doctor prescribed you anti-anxiety medicine to help you relax, bring them with you. Only take them after you and the surgeon decide on the procedure. Do not take them at home. You will need to have a driver if you decide to use these medicines.
If you have had a heart valve replacement, joint replacement, or organ transplant please ask your doctor if you need to take antibiotics before Mohs surgery.
What do I need to bring?
Bring some snacks and drinks while you are in the waiting area.
Bring a book, magazine, or laptop computer.
Bring a complete list of current medicines with dosage.
Bring a list of your past and present health problems and surgeries. We need to know of an implanted device.
Day of Surgery
When you arrive, you will check in at the registration desk, or a kiosk. Staff and the surgeon will talk about your treatment. All cell phones and pagers must be turned off in the procedure rooms. Relatives or friends will need to wait in the waiting room.
Plan to be in our clinic for most or all day to remove and analyze the tissue. Schedule nothing else that day.
We will numb the area. We will remove the tissue and send it to our lab. After we remove the tissue we will stop any bleeding and bandage the area. You will wait in the waiting area until the tissue is processed and analyzed by the surgeon. If any cancer cells remain, your surgeon will remove those areas. We will repeat this process as many times as needed until the results come back clear.
After all the cancer is removed, your surgeon will decide what is best for healing. This may include
Closing with stitches
Doing a skin flap or graft
Rarely is there a need for repair by a plastic surgeon. It will depend on the size of the wound, where it is, and what you and your surgeon decide. Areas that are close to the eye sometimes need repair by a plastic surgeon who specializes in the eye.
There may be swelling that affects vision if your surgery is on upper the face. Because of this, if you plan to take anti-anxiety or medicine or pain medicines, you will need someone to drive you home.
If you need to cancel your visit, please call us at least 24 hours before the visit.
For a few days after surgery, you may have pain, fatigue and swelling. This will limit how much you can do. You may have weight and activity restrictions for one to several weeks. Your surgeon will talk to you about this after the surgery is done.
You will return to the Mohs clinic or see your local doctor to have the stitches removed in 1 to 3 weeks.
You will need routine follow up skin exams. You may schedule those with a dermatologist or primary doctor. The surgeon will help you decide this after your visit.
All forms of skin cancer treatment will leave a scar. Most sites heal very well. Many take up to a full year. Talk to our staff if you have questions or concerns about a scar.
Please watch our “What to Expect” video to prepare for your visit:
Insurance and Billing
Please have a referral from your doctor (UWHC or from an outside clinic) before your visit here. This will help avoid delays.
For UW Health physician billing questions call 608-833-6090. For UW Health clinic billing questions, call: 608-262-2221.
Priceline can give estimates of cost at 608-263-1507.
UW Health West Clinic
451 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717
UW Health East Clinic
5249 East Terrace Drive
Madison, WI 53718
If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.