McFarland Clinic

Mohs Surgery

ACMS member logoWhen you are diagnosed with skin cancer, your provider may recommend Mohs Surgery. Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized surgical treatment for skin cancer with a cure rate of 97-99 percent.

What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is a meticulous procedure that utilizes a microscope to help ensure that all cancer cells are removed when skin cancer is treated. Mohs surgery results in the highest cure rate for skin cancers while removing the minimum amount of healthy tissue. 

Related Specialties

Locations & Hours

West Ames Office

3600 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50014


Location Details on West Ames Office




Services Offered

  • Scar revisions
  • Mohs surgery
  • Excisional surgery
  • Laser therapy
  • Melanoma treatment
  • Mole removal
  • Piercing repairs

Disease & Disorders Treated

Skin cancers including:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Other less common forms of skin cancers
  • Growths

Preoperative Information

Before the Day of Procedure

Please complete and review the following materials in preparation for your upcoming Mohs Surgery appointment in our Dermatology Department.


Take all of your usual medications including insulin on the day of surgery, unless directed otherwise. If you take any medications with Coumadin or Warfarin, please have your INR lab drawn within 72 hours before your procedure date. You may bring the results to your appointment or fax them to the Dermatology Department at 515-663-4836.

The Night Before Surgery

You may want to wash your hair the night or morning before surgery because you will be asked not to shower for at least 24 hours following surgery.

Day of Procedure

  • On the morning of surgery, wash your face thoroughly and do not apply any makeup. Also, do not wear clothing you must pull over your head as it may be difficult to remove after surgery.
  • You may eat a normal breakfast or lunch on the day of your surgery.
  • Feel free to bring along activities such as books, tablets, etc., or food, snacks, or beverages. We strive to make your visit as pleasant as possible, however, there will be wait times involved due to the nature of the procedure. 

What to Expect During Your Mohs Surgery

During the procedure, the Mohs surgeon removes the visible tumor and a margin of healthy tissue. Then your removed tissue is "mapped" and examined under the microscope for remaining cancer cells. With the Mohs procedure, the surgeon can examine 100 percent of the tissue that surrounds the tumor.

What to Expect After Your Mohs Surgery

After the cancer is removed, the Mohs surgeon repairs the area of skin you have lost. Reconstruction may be performed by simply sewing up the wound, or by using techniques such as skin flaps and grafts. Occasionally, wounds are allowed to heal on their own (without stitches, flaps, or grafts). Your Mohs surgeon will help you choose the reconstruction technique that is best for you.

More Information

For more expectations from the American College of Mohs Surgery, see Before and After Mohs Surgery: What to Expect for Patients.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our office at 515-239-4492.

Patient Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mohs micrographic surgery?

It is a specialized surgical treatment for skin cancer which can provide the highest cure rate while removing the least amount of surrounding healthy tissue.

What other services are provided by a Mohs surgeon?

Addtional services provided by a Mohs surgeon include, but are not limited to, excisional surgery, scar revisions, melanoma treatment, mole removal and laser therapy.

When is Mohs surgery used?

Mohs surgery is usually recommended for skin cancers that occur on sensitive areas of the body or that have a high likelihood of recurrence.
These include skin cancers that:

  • Are located in cosmetically or functionally important areas such as around the face, scalp and neck. Mohs surgery can be used on other body areas for skin tumors that have a high risk of recurring.
  • Have cells that grow rapidly or deeply.
  • Have recurred after previous treatment.
What are the risks of Mohs surgery?

As with every surgery the risk of complications does exist. Complications associated with Mohs surgery are uncommon, but may occur. When they do occur, they include, but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding-Excessive bleeding under a wound that has been sewn up (sutured) can delay healing.
  • Infection- Rarely, wounds become infected and may require antibiotic treatment.
  • Loss of nerve and muscle function- Uncommonly, the surgery may result in impaired nerve or muscle function. This is often temporary, but may be permanent.
  • Poor healing- In some instances the wound created by the surgery may heal slowly or not as well as anticipated.
  • Swelling- All surgery results in swelling that decreases gradually during healing.
  • Scarring- All techniques to remove skin cancer can cause scarring. With Mohs surgery, the wound that is present after removal of the skin cancer is the smallest possible; this helps minimize scarring.

Video Resources

Skin Cancer Diagnosis

In this video Mohs Surgeon, Dr. Leslie Christenson talks about the most common types of skin cancer.

Why Mohs Works

Mohs Surgery is the most effective treatment for skin cancer. Dr. Christenson explains how Mohs works.

Mohs Surgery: The Most Effective Treatment for Skin Cancer

Mohs micrographic surgery is the most effective and advanced treatment for skin cancer. Learn more in this video from the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS).

Pre-Surgery Instructions

Dr. Christenson walks you through what you need to know before surgery.

Mohs Surgery Day

Mohs Surgeon Dr. Leslie Christenson talks about what you can expect during your surgery day.

Mohs Surgery - Full Procedure

Mohs Surgeon Dr. Leslie Christenson shows an entire Mohs Surgery from start to finish.

Postoperative Care for Mohs Surgery

It's common for patients to wonder what they can expect after a Mohs skin cancer surgery. This video is intended to help you understand what to expect in the short and long term.

After the Surgery

Dr. Christenson explains what you need to know after the surgery and how to have the best possible outcome.

Daily Wound Care - Linear Incision

How to clean and care for your linear incision wound.

Daily Wound Care - Nose Incision

How to clean and care for your nose incision wound.

Daily Wound Care - Ear Incision

How to clean and care for your ear incision wound.

What to Do if Your Incision Bleeds

Here's what to do if your Mohs Surgery incision bleeds beneath your bandage.

Daily Wound Care - Extra Pearls

Extra information for caring for your incision post-surgery.

Patient Education

Important Links
See details for American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Dermatology

The American Academy of Dermatology is the largest of all dermatologic associations, with a membership of over 16,000 practicing dermatologists in the United States.

See details for American College of Mohs Surgery
American College of Mohs Surgery

The American College of Mohs Surgery promotes and continues to set the highest standards of patient care relating to Mohs Micrographic Surgery through its fellowship training process.

See details for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) and its nearly 4,700 members are at the forefront of the development of safe, in-office procedures that are saving lives by diagnosing and treating potentially deadly skin cancers earlier and more effectively.

Patient Guides
See details for Skin Cancer Awareness Guide
Skin Cancer Awareness Guide

Information on performing a skin self examination and important facts on skin cancer.

See details for Before and After Mohs Surgery: What to Expect for Patients
Before and After Mohs Surgery: What to Expect for Patients

This digital flipbook from the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) is a comprehensive guide to the Mohs Surgery process.

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