Dr. Hetzler is tasked with removing skin cancers from areas where a big scar is the last thing anyone wants. It’s one thing to take a basil cell carcinoma off the back of a 50-year-old man. He’s probably not that concerned with the scar. But it’s a different story removing melanoma from a woman’s cheek. For this type of surgery, Dr. Hetzler tries to remove only as much tissue as is necessary. To do that, he uses Mohs surgery, if possible.
What is Mohs surgery?
If you’re a regular at the dermatologist (and spending umpteen hours on the Jersey Shore as kids, most of us should be on a first name basis with a dermatologist!), you’ve probably heard of Mohs surgery. It’s a technique to remove only the amount of tissue necessary and little more.
First developed in 1938 by surgeon Frederic Mohs, Mohs surgery is microscopically controlled surgery used to remove common forms of skin cancer. Since its introduction, Mohs micrographic surgery has been refined into the most advanced, precise, and effective treatment for removing skin cancers. That’s why it is the method of choice for Dr. Hetzler on delicate areas such as the face.
During Mohs surgery, Dr. Hetzler removes the cancerous tumor. Then the patient waits while the tissue is taken to the lab and immediately examined for cancer cells. The margins, or outside, of the cancerous tissue are examined. If cancer cells are still found, Dr. Hetlzer will go back and widen the margin just a bit. This tissue is then tested in the same way. The additional tissue is removed until healthy, cancer-free tissue around the tumor is reached. This is called “clear margins.” Mohs surgery allows Dr. Hetzler to be very precise and remove the least amount of tissue beyond the cancerous tissue.
Advantages of Mohs surgery
In areas where precision isn’t as important, say on the man’s back we noted above, the amount of tissue to be removed is blindly estimated. That is the method employed by most dermatologists, who often perform removal of basil cell and squamous cell carcinomas right in their offices. While it can be effective, this approach has two drawbacks: it can lead to the removal of unnecessary healthy tissue (creating a bigger scar) and to tumor re-growth if any cancerous cells are missed.
By microscopically testing layer upon layer of the tissue removed with Mohs surgery, the guesswork is eliminated with only the necessary tissue being removed. That’s why Mohs surgery has the highest success rate of all treatments for skin cancer — up to 99%.
On the face, the advantages of Mohs surgery are obvious. Because Mohs surgery minimizes the amount of healthy tissue removed, it reduces the impact on the surrounding skin, improving the aesthetic outcome. Plus, patients can be confident that Dr. Hetzler has removed the entire tumor. This saves money and anxiety. It virtually assures the patient that the skin cancer won’t grow back on the site.
If you have a skin cancer growth on a delicate area, don’t let your dermatologist remove it. Utilize the expertise of Dr. Hetzler. If possible, he’ll use Mohs surgery to ensure the best final result. Call Dr. Hetzler at 732-219-0447 to make an appointment, or with any questions, you may have.