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Auckland DHB Dermatology Service

Public Service, Dermatology

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery is a highly effective and advanced treatment for skin cancer. It offers the highest potential for cure (up to 99%) because the tumour is precisely removed and analysed layer by layer under the microscope during your appointment, and prior to reconstruction of the wound. Your surgeon is also the pathologist, providing a powerful and effective combination to accurately remove the skin cancer cells. An important additional benefit is its ability to minimise the removal of normal tissue surrounding the tumour, leading to a smaller defect and a superior cosmetic outcome.  The visible part of a skin cancer is very often only the "tip of the iceberg"; so-called thin roots of cancer cells unseen by the naked eye may spread deep and wide and only be visible to examination under a microscope.

What are the advantages of Mohs surgery?

  • By aiming to evaluate 100% of the surgical margin, it provides the highest assurance that all the cancer cells are removed during surgery.
  • The amount of normal tissue loss is minimised and, as a result, the functional and cosmetic outcome can be maximised.
  • The pathology (microscopic evaluation) is performed on the day by your Mohs surgeon, so there is no waiting for results following surgery.
  • It can cure skin cancers where other methods have failed.

Auckland is unique and fortunate to have this type of surgery available in the public health sector.  It is provided by Dr Todd Gunson and Dr Bob Chan.  If your family doctor or another specialist feels Mohs surgery may be best for you, you will be given a consultation appointment.  After assessment at this appointment, you will be allocated to a waiting list for the surgery if it is the most appropriate treatment.

Further information about Mohs surgery provided by Dr Gunson, can be found at www.thedermatologist.co.nz

What should I expect on the day?
The nursing staff will discuss this with you over the telephone prior to your appointment.  You will generally be expected to arrive in the early morning, and should be prepared to spend the majority of the day in the department.  Because a number of cases are performed on the same day, and because of the sometimes unpredictable nature of tracking the tumour microscopically, waiting is an inevitable part of the procedure.  Please bring a book, magazine, knitting, or other activities to keep you amused, as well as a packed lunch and snacks.  Tea, coffee, and water will be provided.  The surgery is all performed under local anaesthetic, and therefore fasting is not required.  Unless specifically told otherwise, have a good breakfast and take all your normal medications on the day of your surgery.

This page was last updated at 12:52PM on March 31, 2021.