When you noticed that a mole had changed shape or color or that a strange new mark appeared on your skin, you had it evaluated right away. Your dermatologist diagnosed the lesion as either squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) or basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Now you’re scheduled for a procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery, and you’re wondering what you should do.

First, relax

Getting a diagnosis of skin cancer is understandably upsetting. But if your doctor recommended Mohs micrographic surgery, your chances of a complete cure are excellent. Mohs micrographic surgery is a highly specialized procedure that has a 99% cure rate for new skin cancers and a 94% cure rate for skin cancers that have recurred.

The expert dermatologists at Advanced Skincare MedCenter in Los Angeles and Orange County, California, recommend relaxation techniques to help you manage any anxiety associated with your diagnosis. Yoga, meditation, or just enjoying time with your friends and family can help you stay relaxed and optimistic before and after your Mohs surgery.

Stop blood thinners

Even though Mohs is a simple surgery that your dermatologist performs in the office, you should stop taking blood-thinning medications and herbs before your procedure. We recommends that you stop smoking and eliminate:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Alcohol
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

You get a complete list of other blood-thinning agents to avoid from your Advanced Skincare MedCenter team. Also let us know if you take medications or supplements.

Bring a book or tablet

Mohs surgery can take several hours. Your doctor carefully removes a thin slice of your lesion with a scalpel, and then examines the slice under a microscope to determine if it has any cancerous cells. Your dermatologist may remove many layers until reaching an area that’s completely cancer free.

One of the advantages of Mohs surgery is that you don’t have to wait days or weeks to find out if your skin cancer is gone. Your doctor removes all of the cancerous cells while you wait.

Pack some snacks

You won’t be able to leave the office while your doctor performs Mohs. Be sure you bring along some snacks and drinks, in case you get hungry or thirsty.

Take it easy later

If you have a marathon planned or any other strenuous activities, cancel them or push them forward. Your skin needs to heal after Mohs surgery. Depending on how large your lesion was, you may need to curtail your activities for a few days or up to two weeks.

Prepare for a (tiny) scar

Your expert doctor at ArmstrongMD removes as little healthy skin as possible when performing Mohs. However, the surgery does leave a small scar. You’ll be given post-treatment care instructions to help your wound heal well and minimize scarring.

Stock up on sunscreen

Protecting yourself from UVA and UVB rays is even more important after Mohs surgery. Keep your wound clean and covered. Avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, and always use hats, long sleeves, and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when outdoors.

Whether you live in a sunny climate, like Los Angeles or Hawaii, or spend your winters bundled against the cold, checking your skin regularly for suspicious lesions every month is a must.


After a skin cancer diagnosis or Mohs surgery, you should come in to see us for a skin-cancer screening twice a year. Call us at our office in Orange County, California, or click the “book now” button to schedule an appointment online.