If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, Mohs surgery can remove the cancerous tissue while keeping as much healthy tissue as possible. At Manhattan Dermatology, many of our patients wonder if they’ll have a scar after this procedure.
Board-certified dermatologists Wendy Long Mitchell, MD, and Vicki J. Levine, MD, perform Mohs surgery at our Murray Hill and Midtown East locations in New York City. With their help, we’ve created this guide to answer your questions about scarring after Mohs surgery.
Here’s what you need to know about Mohs surgery and the scars that might result.
Mohs surgery overview
Through Mohs surgery, we remove cancerous skin tissue while preserving the surrounding healthy tissues. It works using advanced surgical techniques that remove cancerous areas thin (1-2 mm) layer by layer.
We examine each layer in our on-site laboratory to look for skin cancer. If we find evidence of cancer, we remove another thin layer until all cancer cells are gone. After your Mohs surgery, you leave our office with only healthy skin tissue remaining.
Mohs surgery cures 99% of newly diagnosed skin cancers and 94% of recurring skin cancers. And the best part? It does all this while minimizing your risk of permanent or significant scarring.
Understanding scarring and Mohs surgery
As with all surgery, some scarring occurs with Mohs surgery. But this innovative technique means we save as much healthy skin tissue as possible.
As a result, after Mohs surgery you end up with a smaller scar compared to traditional surgeries. This makes Mohs surgery an excellent choice if you’re diagnosed with skin cancer in a highly noticeable spot, like on your face or neck.
It’s still important to understand that the initial scar you see might look bigger than you expect. This is because while your skin cancer may have looked like a small bump or red spot, the cancerous tissue may extend below the surface of your skin.
In other words, we may need to remove more tissue than you might have guessed. This creates a bigger scar than the original spot of cancer.
Fortunately, while your wound may look bigger, over time scars from Mohs surgery fade. In fact, studies show that one year after surgery, most Mohs scars have faded significantly.
How to improve scarring after Mohs surgery
The good news is that by taking care of your Mohs surgery wound after your procedure, you can further minimize any scarring. Here are some ways you can improve healing and the appearance of your scar:
- Don’t expose the wound to the sun
- Keep the wound covered so it stays moist (until we direct otherwise)
- Apply polysporin or aquaphor to the site to minimize scarring
- Apply sunscreen every day once the wound has healed
It’s also important to be patient. Your post-Mohs scar continues to improve for a year or so after your procedure. New blood vessels help heal the site, and any scar tissue that forms fades over time.
If you’re not happy with the appearance of your final scar, we at Manhattan Dermatology may recommend scar revision. This decreases the visible scar tissue and leaves you with a scar that’s as flat as possible.
Learn more about Mohs surgery and scarring by scheduling an appointment at Manhattan Dermatology online or over the phone.