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Mohs Surgery Clinic looks at and treats skin cancers and non-cancerous skin growths. There are different kinds of skin cancer. Most skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early. These include:
Basal cell carcinoma (the most common form of skin cancer)
Squamous cell carcinoma
Staged excision is a way of taking out shallow melanoma skin cancers. This often takes two or more visits.
At each visit, the area of skin cancer is removed and sent to our pathology lab. The lab will look for melanoma cells in this tissue. Results can take from 2 days up to 2 weeks. If there is still melanoma at the edges, this can be re-excised at your next visit. You may have a bandaged wound and many visits over a few days or even weeks to make sure that all the cancer is removed.
The wound will be repaired once all the cancer cells are removed. You may need a plastic surgeon. It depends on the size and location of the wound.
Though this method has many steps, it works best to preserve healthy skin and has the highest cure rate. We cannot use the faster methods that we use for other skin cancers to find melanoma in the tissue. Though this process is called “’Slow’ Mohs”, the tissue is given high priority in the lab.
Getting Ready 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 routine prescribed medicines, and any prescribed blood thinners. If your referring provider prescribed anti-anxiety medicine to help you relax, bring it with you. Take only after you have talked with the surgeon. Do not take them at home. You will need to have a driver if you decide to use these medicines.
You may need antibiotics before surgery if:
The cancer is around your mouth and lips.
You had a heart valve replacement.
You had a heart transplant with valve abnormality.
You have a unrepaired congenital heart condition.
You had a previous heart valve infection.
You had prosthetic material to repair heart valve.
What to Bring
Some snacks and drinks.
A book, magazine, or laptop computer.
A complete list of current medicines with dosage.
A list of past and present health problems and surgeries. We need to know of an implanted device.
All cell phones must be turned off in the procedure rooms. You may have one adult come with you. They will wait in the waiting room during surgery.
You will need a driver if you have surgery on the face as it may cause swelling that effects vision.
Day of Surgery
When you arrive, check in at the registration desk or a kiosk. In clinic, the staff and the surgeon will discuss your treatment with you. You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. The skin cancer will be removed and sent to the lab. The wound may be partially closed with stitches or just bandaged tightly.
You may have pain, fatigue and swelling for a few days which will limit how much you can do. You will have restrictions for one to several weeks.
You will return to the Mohs clinic, see a plastic surgeon, or your local provider to have the stitches removed in about 1 to 3 weeks. You will need routine follow up skin exams. You may schedule the follow-up visits here or with your primary doctor. All forms of skin surgery will leave a scar. Most sites heal very well and may take up to a full year. Our clinical staff will answer any questions or concerns about a scar.
Check with your insurance in advance to see if you need a referral. This will avoid delays.
UW Health Physician Billing:
UW Health Clinic Billing:
Priceline (for cost estimates):
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.