Moh’s Surgery: Removing Cancer, Restoring Healthy Skin

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lisa J. Learn has helped many patients through this difficult journey. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with skin cancer and are facing surgical removal, one option you may want to consider is Moh’s surgery and reconstruction.

Following the Map

This state-of-the-art procedure is primarily used for skin cancer on the head, neck, face, and difficult areas such as the nose, lips and ears. However, it can also be used on the hands and feet, as well as other areas of the body.

Named for the person who invented the technique, Moh’s surgery is a specialized form of cancer treatment that removes cancerous cells on and below the surface of your skin in a repeated series of excisions. The excised tissues are then frozen, dyed and further examined to determine the “map” of the tumor (where it goes and how far it reaches). This ensures that all cancerous tissue is removed, providing for a very high cure rate and preservation of normal, healthy skin.


Sometimes, reconstruction of the treated area is needed. This can be done with variety of methods. Dr. Lisa J. Learn will take into consideration the location and type of lesion, as well as the tissues involved, to determine which method is right for you.

Flap technique—most commonly used in facial reconstruction, this method uses a flap of skin still attached to your body and blood supply.

Cartilage grafting—cartilage is usually taken from the ear, and sometimes the rib.

Tissue expansion—rarely used, this is a technique that encourages the body to grow additional skin.

Skin grafts—skin is taken from a donor site from another part of your body. This is frequently used for facial reconstruction.

Moh’s surgery and post-Moh’s reconstructive procedures can be performed separately or together. Depending on the nature of the surgery, it is performed under general or local anesthesia. The cancerous lesion will be excised and the wound closed. Regardless of the technique used, sutures are positioned in the natural creases and curves of your skin whenever possible in order to minimize the appearance of scars.

There are some cases when reconstruction involves two different stages, particularly if certain flap techniques are used. In such cases, the first stage will entail creating and repositioning the flap, while the second stage separates the flap from its original position and blood supply. It is possible for a second surgery to be required for completion.

The Journey Back

Recovery time depends on the extent of the surgery, but typically it is fairly quick. Resting as much as possible in the first few days following the procedure is helpful. Sutures are usually removed within a week or two. In most cases there is minimal discomfort, and you can return to your normal activities the next day—making sure to closely follow care instructions, of course.

If you or a loved one are facing skin cancer, Dr. Lisa J. Learn is here for you. We will take the time to talk, answer questions, provide detailed information, review your options, and ultimately help you decide your best course of action. If you should choose Moh’s surgery and/or reconstruction, know that you are in expert hands, and we will be with you every step of the way. Call (954) 380-8411 to set up a consultation, or visit our office in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We are happy to help you restore your skin and your overall wellbeing.