This article on finding a Mohs surgeon originally appeared in the September/October 2018 edition of The Triangle Physician. You can read this issue online here.
Hearing the words “skin cancer” come from a medical professional’s mouth can be a terrifying experience. However, there is a procedure that removes the skin cancer and allows us to get the highest cure rate of skin cancer while removing
the least amount of tissue– Mohs surgery.
Today, Mohs surgery has come to be known as the single most effective technique for removing both Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), two of the most common types of skin cancer.
When looking for a provider to perform Mohs surgery, it’s important to do your homework.
Patients will want a highly qualified dermatologist to perform the procedure and will want them to:
- Be a board-certified dermatologist
- Specialize in Mohs surgery
- Accept their insurance
- Fully answer all questions as they arise
- Have reconstruction expertise to repair Mohs defects
As basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are both incredibly common, chances are the patient will know someone who has interacted with a dermatologist who specializes in Mohs surgery. The patient should ask their friends, family and other healthcare providers they trust for recommendations.
There are surgeons who perform Mohs surgery exclusively and provide same day reconstruction.
Technically, any doctor who cuts into the skin and processes the tissue using the Mohs method is performing Mohs surgery. While they may be performing Mohs surgery, they may not be performing it well.
Taking the time to research the doctors credentials can go a long way to easing a wary patient’s mind. Patients should look for a board certified dermatologists and performs Mohs surgery on a regular basis. The more experience the dermatologist has, the better prepared they will be in the event of any complications.
Two organizations that provide training standards for Mohs surgery are the:
- American Society for Mohs Surgery
- American College of Mohs Surgery
Interview the Surgeon
Many healthcare providers have been trained do surgery in different settings. Some providers underwent training during their residency, while others spent extra time after their residency on the training.
There are currently no specific requirements. In residency, dermatologists are routinely exposed to a wide variety of dermatological surgical procedures. They’re also trained to look at the skin and understand simple to complex reconstruction of surgical defects. While a pathologist may be on the team, most Mohs surgeons wear two hats during the procedure– surgeon and pathologist. In general, dermatologists will have more training in both cutaneous pathology and surgery than other healthcare providers.
As the patient narrows down their list of possible dermatologists, they should call each office to schedule a consult and meet with the dermatologist who would be performing the procedure. During this consult, patients should have a list of questions ready, such as:
- Do you typically treat patients with the same skin concerns/problems as me?
- How many Mohs surgeries do you perform a year? For how many years?
- How frequently do you encounter complications during this procedure?
- How do you avoid complications?
- What do you do to fix an issues if a complication does arise?
While some dermatologists do complete a fellowship training in Mohs surgeries, not all do, so it’s important to ask about any specialized training as well.
When it comes to your skin, you only want the best.
That’s why you should choose Southern Dermatology. We offer the best products, with the best ingredients. Our experienced practitioners strive to provide the best and safest experience for all patients. Call Southern Dermatology today at 919-782-2152 to schedule a consult.