210 Waterfront Dr., Suite 105, Bedford, Nova Scotia B4A 0H3

Surgeons performing micrographic surgeryWhat is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs micrographic surgery is a surgical and pathological technique used to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma on the face, head and neck. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are removed and examined under the microscope until only the cancer-free tissue remains.

Mohs surgery is performed in order to remove the skin cancer, while doing minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Mohs surgery is performed on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic. Mohs surgery allows surgeons to verify that all cancer cells have been removed at the time of surgery, increasing the chance of a cure and decreasing the need for additional surgeries.

Who Will be Performing the Procedure?

Dr. Michael Stevens is Nova Scotia’s only Mohs surgeon and has performed thousands of these highly specialized surgical procedures. Learn more about Dr. Stevens HERE.

How Do I Prepare Myself?

Prior to the scheduled surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Stop taking certain medications. Let your surgeon know of any and all medications or supplements you’re taking, including blood-thinning medications. You can continue taking any prescription medications as instructed unless your surgeon tells you otherwise.
  • Clear your schedule for the day. It’s not possible to predict exactly how long Mohs surgery will take. For most people, the procedure takes less than four hours. But it may take longer, so it’s best to free up the full day and bring a lunch, snacks and a drink.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Wear casual clothes that are comfortable. Dress in layers so you can easily adapt if the room gets warm or cold.
  • Bring activities to help pass the time. Expect some waiting time during your Mohs surgery. It’s a good idea to plan ahead by packing a book, magazine or other activity to help pass the time.

Female Patient Being Reassured By Doctor In Hospital RoomWhat Can I Expect?

Mohs surgery is done on an outpatient basis in an operating room with an adjacent laboratory, allowing the surgeon to examine the tissue under the microscope to ensure it has been completely removed. You probably won’t have to change into a surgical gown – unless the location of the tumor requires it. To prepare you for surgery, your surgeon or a nurse sanitizes the area that will be operated on, outlines it with a special pen, then injects the area with a local anesthetic. The anesthetic numbs the skin, so you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure.

Once the anesthetic takes effect, Dr. Stevens uses a scalpel on the visible portion of the cancer along with a thin, underlying layer of tissue that’s slightly larger than the visible tumor. A temporary bandage is placed on your incision. Then, Dr. Stevens will take the tissue to the laboratory for analysis. This portion of the procedure typically takes the longest amount of time.

You may need to wait one to two hours in our waiting room for Dr. Stevens to return. While you’re waiting, the tissue sample is cut into sections and examined under a microscope.

If the cancer remains, your Mohs surgery will then continue. Your surgeon removes an additional layer of tissue from the affected area, taking care to remove tissue that contains cancer while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible. This process is repeated until the last tissue sample removed is cancer-free.

What Happens After the Procedure?

Depending on the extent of the operation, helping repair the wound may include:

  • Letting the wound heal on its own
  • Using stitches to close the wound
  • Shifting skin from an adjacent area to cover the wound
  • Using a skin graft from another part of the body to cover the wound

One of the benefits of Mohs surgery is that you know your results right away, and typically don’t leave your appointment until all of the skin cancer is removed. You will likely have a follow-up visit with your surgeon or referring doctor to monitor your recovery, ensuring that your wound is healing well.

Are there any Follow-up Procedures?

While Mohs surgery does have a high success rate of curing skin cancer, there is a small risk of cancer recurrence or developing another skin cancer. People who have been diagnosed with skin cancer have an increased risk of developing skin cancer again. You’ll likely need regular follow-up visits with your dermatologist or family doctor to detect any new skin cancer.


This type of surgery is completely covered under MSI. Our team is happy to answer any questions you may have about this medical procedure and associated coverage.