Recovering from Mohs Surgery: Tips + What to Expect

Written by Hubert Chodkiewicz, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on November 13, 2019 4 Comments

mohs surgery recovery

Mohs Surgery is a highly effective skin cancer treatment that allows for the immediate identification and complete removal of the entire cancerous growth. The procedure involves removing the visible tumor/biopsy site and examining the surrounding and peripheral margins under the microscope until the Mohs surgeon confirms full cancer removal.

The typical recovery experience for many Mohs patients is relatively simple and uneventful. In this post, we’ll discuss the typical recovery timeline of a Mohs Surgery procedure. We’ll also provide tips to make recovery as quick and easy as possible.

Note: the recovery process for Mohs surgery can differ from patient to patient based a number of factors including tumor location, wound size, and the patient’s inherent healing response or tolerance of pain. As such, your recovery could differ from what is outlined within below.  Also refer to your physician’s specific instructions.

Mohs Surgery Recovery Timeline

  • Day of Treatment: Many patients may experience moderate pain following the surgery. Post-procedure pain can often be managed with extra strength Tylenol and the use of a ice (applied over the dressings) over the first 48 hours following surgery. Bruising and swelling of the treatment area is also common. Bleeding and oozing of the would may also occur immediately after surgery. Most bleeding can be stopped by applying prolonged pressure to the wound. Patients should avoid showering and keep the area dry for the first 24 hours. Patients are typically advised to go home and rest for the day following the procedure.
  • Day Following Treatment: Most patients are able to return to work, provided their job does not entail vigorous physical activity. Patients may also be able to shower after being cleared by their physician to do so. At this point, most patients will be able to remove any dressings.
  • 5 to 10 Days Following Treatment: Sutures for most sites (if used for the Mohs procedure) are typically removed within 5 to 10 days of the procedure. Suture removal may vary depending on site i.e. the back and scalp require 2 weeks.
  • 7 to 14 Days Following Treatment: Most bruising or swelling of treated area should be completely resolved. Patients are often able to begin resuming vigorous exercise.
  • 4-6 Weeks Following Treatment: Most wounds are fully healed, however the exact time for complete healing may vary depending on would size. Some residual redness may persist and will gradually fade. Any scarring should continue to improve over the course of a year. Scar revision procedures can also be done to help minimize the appearance of scarring. Due to their increased risk of skin cancer development, patients are highly encouraged to see their dermatologist for period follow-up skin examinations and practice sun protection like using a high SPF sunscreen or wearing protective hats or clothing daily.

Reconstruction Procedures Following Mohs

Depending on how extensive the Mohs procedure is, some patients may require reconstructive surgery. Large or complicated wounds may require a skin graft or flap to close the defect. Reconstructive surgery can be performed after the area is determined to be cancer free, which can be the same day as the Mohs procedure or at a later date.

Tips for a Speedy Recovery

  • Follow any post procedure advice given by your provider
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up visits
  • Refrain from touching or scratching the treatment area
  • Do not apply makeup until cleared to do so by your physician
  • Avoid exercise or vigorous activity until cleared by your physician
  • Stay properly hydrated by drinking lots of water
  • Sleep with your head elevated on an extra pillow if Mohs was performed on your face or neck
  • Avoid sun exposure and practice sun protection following the procedure

Hubert Chodkiewicz, MD

Hubert Chodkiewicz, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained in Mohs micrographic surgery, cosmetic dermatology, and the treatment of varicose vein disease. He is additionally certified by The American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine. Dr. Chodkiewicz completed his dermatology residency at The University of Texas at Houston/M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where he served as chief resident during his final year.

4 Responses to “Recovering from Mohs Surgery: Tips + What to Expect”

  1. Avatar Alice says:

    Among the possible treatments presented to us, it seems that Mohs surgery is the most effective for my grandfather who was diagnosed with skin cancer months ago. Thanks for all this info on recovery!!!

  2. Avatar Deborah says:

    I had mohs surgery for a growth very close to the corner of my eye that required a quarter size skin graft. It has been five days but the swelling on my eyelid and around my eye especially near my nose has not changed. How long does it typically take? I feel that my eye looks deformed and I am afraid it will never heal correctly.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Deborah,

      I’m sorry to hear about the issue. While it can take some time for swelling to subside, its hard to give you any sort of confirmation without assessing you in person. We would definitely advise you to see your Moh’s surgeon and discuss with them further in person.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  3. Avatar Raegan says:

    Very helpful post, I’ve been nervous leading up to my Mohs procedure. Its coming up next week, YIKES! It’s helpful to know what to expect after surgery.

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