Risks of Surgery

Risks of Surgery

Although no surgery is without risks, Mohs surgery has a proven track record as a lower risk procedure.  The most common risks are listed below.  Because the surgeon must be led by the microscope, many challenges cannot be predicted.  Please understand that these occurrences are the exception and not the rule.

  • There will be a scar at the site of the removal. We will make every effort to obtain optimal cosmetic results, but our primary goal is to remove the entire tumor. Again, Mohs surgery will leave you with the smallest wound thus creating the best opportunity for optimal cosmetic and functional results.
  • The defect created by the removal of the skin cancer may be larger than anticipated. There is no way to predict prior to surgery the exact size of the final defect.
  • There may be poor wound healing. At times, despite our best efforts, for various reasons (such as bleeding, smoking, diabetes, etc), healing is slow or sometimes suboptimal. Flaps and grafts utilized to repair the defect may at times fail. Under these circumstances, the wound will usually be left to heal on its own to be revised as needed at a later date.
  • Rarely, the tumor invades nerve fibers. When this is the case, the nerves must be removed along with the tumor which may lead to loss of muscle use or sensory nerve function.
  • The tumor may involve an important structure. Many are near or on vital structures such as the eyelids, nose or lips. If the tumor involves these structures, portions of them may have to be removed with resulting cosmetic or functional deformities. Furthermore, repairing the resulting defect may involve some of these structures.
  • Rarely, wounds become infected (less than 1% of cases) and require antibiotic treatment. If you are at particular risk for infection, you may be given antibiotics before or after surgery.
  • There may be excessive bleeding from the wound. Such bleeding can usually be controlled during surgery. There may also be bleeding after surgery. This is never considered to be life threatening bleeding but it may lead to poor healing or increase risk of infection.
  • There may be an adverse reaction to medications used. We will carefully screen you for any history of problems with medications; however, new reactions to medications may occur.
  • There is a small chance that your tumor may return after surgery. This is unlikely (less than 2% of cases) as Mohs has the highest cure rate of any other treatment, but no treatment is 100% effective.  Previously treated tumors and large, longstanding tumors have the greatest chance for recurrence.

We look forward to making sure your experience with Mohs Micrographic surgery is a positive one and appreciate the opportunity to serve you. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns.

Questions concerning your upcoming surgery can be addressed by our Mohs Support Specialist:

Johnson City


423-764-7131 ext. 5094

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