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Risks of Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Because each patient is unique, it is impossible to discuss all the possible complications and risks in this format. The usual risks are discussed below and we will discuss any additional problems associated with your particular case. Please understand that these occurrences are the exception and not the rule.

  • 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 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.
  • There may be poor wound healing. At times, despite our best efforts, for various reasons (such as bleeding, poor physical condition, smoking, diabetes, or other diseases), healing is slow or the wound may reopen. 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.
  • There may be a loss of motor (muscle) or sensory (feeling) nerve function. Rarely, the tumor invades nerve fibers. When this is the case, the nerves must be removed along with the tumor.
  • 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 (fewer than 1%) and require antibiotic treatment. If you are at particular risk for infection, you may be given an antibiotic during surgery.
  • There may be excessive bleeding from the wound. Such bleeding can usually be controlled during surgery. There may also be bleeding after surgery. Bleeding into a sutured graft or flap may inhibit good wound healing and require extra visits to the clinic.
  • 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 regrow after surgery. Previously treated tumors and large, longstanding tumors have the greatest chance for recurrence.