Walk-in Dermatology > Blog > Medical Dermatology > Need Mohs Surgery?

Need Mohs Surgery?

Learn about the outpatient procedure that saves skin – and lives
February 28, 2023
Woman smiling at the sun

It’s a little known fact that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates than 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. That’s 9,500 people every day.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most prevalent types of skin cancer. And while squamous cell carcinomas can be potentially deadly if left untreated, the good news is there’s a highly effective surgical technique for removing cancerous skin. Mohs surgery is considered the most effective procedure for treating many basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, this outpatient procedure is done in stages while you wait comfortably in the office.

The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove all cancerous cells for the best cure rate while saving healthy tissue and leaving the smallest possible scar. It’s minimally invasive and generally causes only minor discomfort around the area of treatment.

A Brief History of Mohs Surgery

The procedure was first known as chemosurgery, which was developed by Frederic E. Mohs, MD, in the 1930s. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Dr. Mohs used chemicals to treat cancerous rat tissues and produce specific reactions. He discovered that a zinc chloride solution could preserve skin tissue for microscopic study without changing the architectural structure of the cells. Dr. Mohs developed a paste that could be applied safely to the skin so suspicious skin tissue could be removed without causing bleeding. The tissue sample could then be placed on a slide for study under a microscope.

By the mid-1960s, Dr. Perry Robins was studying the procedure with Dr. Mohs.  Dr. Robins soon realized the potential for dermatology. He brought the technique to New York University, where he taught dermatologists this skin cancer procedure with modifications that did not require chemicals or zinc chloride paste. Dr. Robins named the procedure in honor of Dr. Mohs and today, after being perfected with the latest surgical techniques, it’s practiced throughout the world.

Detailed mapping techniques and complete microscopic examination of the tissue margins allow the Mohs surgeon to pinpoint areas of skin cancer that may be invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, even microscopic roots of cancer can be removed while removing as little normal tissue as possible. This accounts for the very high cure rate with Mohs surgery and allows the surgeon to keep the scar as small as possible.

Because skin cancer is so prevalent, patients now have access to this potentially life-saving procedure through specialized surgical practices such as Long Island Mohs Surgery, based in Garden City.

Long Island Mohs Surgery

Long Island Mohs Surgery is led by Dr. Carina Rizzo, board certified in Dermatology and fellowship-trained in Mohs and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Rizzo has been published in peer reviewed journals, lectured nationally, and was on the faculty of both New York University Medical Center and Cornell Medical Center while working in Manhattan. She remains a clinical instructor at Cornell, where she teaches skin cancer treatment and surgery to dermatology resident physicians.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of skin cancer, Long Island Mohs Surgery is here for you. The Long Island Mohs Surgery office is located at 877 Stewart Ave, Garden City, NY. Their office number is (516) 745-0606.

Wondering what to expect during your visit? Learn more about Mohs surgery.