Mohs Surgery Clinic

Mohs surgery is an advanced technique for removal of skin cancer. This surgery has a high cure rate (98 to 99 percent). The skin removed from the skin cancer area is tested in the lab for cancer cells while you wait. A second layer of skin is removed if cancer cells are still there. The wound will be repaired or left to heal on its own. Wound healing depends on the size and location on the body.

Mohs surgery can take all day. You will need someone to stay in the waiting room and drive you home.

Learn more about Mohs surgery by viewing a video from the American College of Mohs Surgery.

Instructions for the Morning of Surgery

  • If you are sick with a cold or have a fever greater than 100º F or 38º C, call 1-319-­384-8442 or 1-800-777-8442 and ask for the dermatology resident doctor-on-call. Your surgery might need to be rescheduled
  • Shower or bathe normally and wash your hair. Men should shave their faces if this is a normal part of your routine
  • Do not wear make-up or nail polish
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that does not need to be lifted over your head
  • Take your routine medicines except for medicines that your doctor told you to stop. Bring all medicine bottles with you to the clinic
  • Eat a normal breakfast unless told otherwise

When You Get to the Hospital

  • The doctor will explain the treatment and you will sign a consent form
    • You should ask questions or share your concerns at this time
  • You may be given medicine to help relax
    • Might make you feel light-headed when you sit, stand, or walk
  • Your surgery site is cleaned, draped with towels, and numbed with a shot before the surgery

After Surgery

  • You may have any of these:
    • Scarring, bruising, aches or pains, feeling tired
    • Short-term loss of skin touch sensation or muscle weakness around the wound
    • Small amount of bleeding on your dressing
  • Wear a bandage dressing for 2-7 days, depending on the type of repair you have
  • Taught how to take care of the wound before going home
  • Might be given pain medicine or an antibiotic to prevent infection
    • Medicines can be filled at the hospital or any other drug store
  • Follow-up visits may be needed to look for proper wound healing

After You Go Home

  • Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen may be taken for pain after surgery
  • Plan on resting for two days. You may have more limits on some activities
  • If the surgery is by your mouth you will have special orders
    • These will have information about dentures, eating, smoking, chewing gum, or talking limits
  • Use a recliner or sleep with two pillows if you had face or head surgery. This will help with bruising and swelling.
  • Do not smoke, or at least cut down on the amount you smoke. This will help you heal better.
  • Do not drive, sign papers, or run a machine for 24 hours if taking medicine prescribed by your doctor to relax or for pain.

When to Call the Doctor

  • If bleeding soaks through your dressing:
    • Hold constant firm pressure over the wound for 10 minutes
    • Do not look at the wound during those 10 minutes
    • If wound keeps bleeding call 1-800-777-8442 while holding pressure
  • Signs of infection:
    • Redness, swelling, bad smelling drainage, pain, or heat around the wound
    • Body temperature over 100° F or 38° C
  • Bad nausea and vomiting

Call if You Have Any Questions

Daytime office hours (Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 5:00 pm), dermatology nurse phone call line at 1-319-356-8913.

After hours, weekends and holidays, call the Hospital operator at 1-319-384-8442 and ask for the dermatology resident doctor on-call.

24 hours a day call toll-free 1-800-777-8442 and ask for the dermatology resident doctor on-call.

You may get a survey asking about your visit. Please fill out and return the survey. We will let our staff know when they have been helpful and/or use your feedback to provide better care.

Care Team