Mohs surgery: A skin cancer cure

What better place to come for curative skin cancer surgery than the place where it was invented? Nearly 90 years ago, the University of Wisconsin's own Dr. Frederic Mohs developed this procedure which can remove many cancerous areas on the skin.


A skin cancer cure

Most skin cancers can be cured if found early. At UW Health, we offer Mohs surgery, a curative treatment for the most common skin cancer types.

Mohs surgery was developed at the University of Wisconsin in the 1930s. This procedure uses a specialized technique to remove cancerous areas on the skin.

What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery is a skin surgery used to treat basal and squamous cell skin cancers as well as other less common types. These types of cancers are commonly linked to sun exposure.  

Mohs surgery is a type of micrographic surgery. During a micrographic surgery, tissue is analyzed under a microscope as it is removed.

Treatment process

What happens during Mohs surgery?

The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove the entire cancerous area. To ensure all cancer is removed, Mohs surgery is performed in stages.

During each stage of Mohs surgery, your surgeon removes the involved the areas of skin involved with cancer. This is examined under a microscope while you wait.

Your surgeon will continue to remove areas of skin involved with until a plane free of cancer cells is reached. This approach ensures the removal of all cancer cells. The technique also leaves more healthy tissue behind, which reduces scarring.

When you arrive for your Mohs surgery, a member of our team will clean and numb your skin.

Once your skin is numb, your surgeon will use a scalpel to remove the involved tissue in the affected area. After each stage of tissue removal, your tissue is analyzed. This process will continue until the cancer is cleared and the wound is ready to be closed.

The size and location of your cancer will affect the time it takes to complete your Mohs surgery. It’s best to plan for the procedure to last a full day. 

Watch: What to expect during Mohs surgery

Complete healing from Mohs surgery can take a year or longer. While scarring is often minimal, all forms of skin surgery leave a scar. Your doctor will give you instructions to care for your wound. It’s important to follow these instructions to ensure proper healing and to reduce scarring. 

Your doctor will also advise you about when you can resume regular activity.

Watch: What to expect after Mohs surgery on your face, neck or head

Watch: What to expect after Mohs surgery on your arms, feet or trunk area


Mohs surgery treatment locations

UW Health’s Mohs surgery and dermatologic surgeons see patients at clinics in Madison.

Meet our team

Our dermatological surgeons

Our doctors are specially trained to perform Mohs surgery and other dermatologic surgeries.