Mohs micrographic surgery


Mohs micrographic 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.

Alternative Names

Skin cancer - Mohs surgery; Basal cell skin cancer - Mohs surgery; Squamous cell skin cancer - Mohs surgery; Melanoma - Mohs surgery


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 may take two visits.

During the procedure, the surgeon removes the cancer in layers until all the cancer has been removed. The surgeon will:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Mohs surgery can be used for most skin cancers, such as basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers.

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:

Before the Procedure

Your doctor will explain what you should do to prepare for your surgery. You may be asked to:

After the Procedure

Taking proper care of your wound after surgery will help your skin look its best. Your doctor will talk with you about your options:

Outlook (Prognosis)

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.


Ad Hoc Task Force, Connolly SM, Baker DR, et al. AAD/ACMS/ASDSA/ASMS 2012 appropriate use criteria for Mohs micrographic surgery: a report of the American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Mohs Surgery, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, and the American Society for Mohs Surgery [published correction appears in J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015 Apr;72(4):748]. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;67(4):531-550. PMID: 22959232

American College of Mohs Surgery website. The Mohs step-by-step process. Accessed December 14, 2022.

Lam C, Vidimos AT. Mohs micrographic surgery. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 150.

Review Date: 11/30/2022
Reviewed By: Ramin Fathi, MD, FAAD, Director, Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, Phoenix, AZ. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. No warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, is made as to the accuracy, reliability, timeliness, or correctness of any translations made by a third-party service of the information provided herein into any other language. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
© 1997- adam.comAll rights reserved.