Patient Admission Instruction Booklet

Mohs surgery offers the BEST CURE RATES for treating the most common types of skin cancer. Please click here if you would like to print this information.

Preparing for your surgery

  1. Buy the following supplies to take care of your wound after surgery
    • Non-adherent dressing (e.g. 1 box of 3×4” Telfa)
    • Gauze (e.g. 1 box of 4×4” Non-woven Gauze)
    • Paper tape (e.g. 1 roll of Micropore)
    • Cotton tipped applicators (e.g. 1 box of Q-tips)
    • Petroleum Jelly (e.g. 1 tube or jar of Vaseline Jelly Original ointment)
    • Hydrogen Peroxide (e.g. 1 bottle of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide)
  2. Most wounds require stiches
    • Most stiches require removal within 1-2 weeks at the doctors office
    • Stiches can be removed by us, your GP or referring physician
    • Consider avoiding travel until after stiches are removed
  3. Swelling and bruising are common after surgery and can last up to 2 weeks
    • Surgery on the scalp, forehead and around the eyes can cause the eyes to swell shut for 2-3 days, and give you a black eye for 1-2 weeks
    • Wounds on the face need to be covered with bandages for 1 week
    • Makeup can be applied only after stiches are removed
    • Consider scheduling surgery at least 2 weeks before any big events (e.g. photo sessions, conferences, weddings) to look your best
  4. Activity
    • No swimming until suture removal
    • No exercise or heavy work (including bending down, heavy lifting, squatting, golf) until suture removal
    • Light activity and office work that does not cause the heart rate to go up can be resumed as tolerated
    • A note for work will be provided if necessary
  5. Diet
    • Eat breakfast the morning of your surgery
    • Bring water and a snack
  6. Habits
    • Avoid nicotine (in cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, gum, hookah, patches) for at least 1 week before and after surgery
    • Avoid illicit drugs for at least 1 week before and after surgery
    • Avoid alcohol for 1 week before and after surgery
  7. Medication
    • Continue taking all prescription medications (including blood pressure pills, diabetes pills/injections, blood thinners) as directed by your physician
    • If you take warfarin (Coumadin), obtain an INR test with a value less than “4” anytime in the month leading up to your surgery
    • Avoid over the counter medications including Advil, Aleve, Alka-Seltzer, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Pepto-Bismol, all vitamins, all supplements and all herbal preparations for 1 week before and after surgery as these can thin the blood unnecessarily
    • Ask your GP if you can stop Aspirin for 1 week before and after surgery
    • Tylenol is OK
  8. Pain is minimal
    • You will be awake during your surgery but the skin will be anesthetized with an injection so you won’t feel any pain
    • Pain after surgery resolves in most patients within 1-2 days
    • Bring 2 Extra-Strength Tylenol with you on the day of your surgery
  9. Anxiety
    • If you have a phobia of needles or are very nervous about your surgery, consider obtaining a prescription for 0.5mg of Ativan from your GP
    • Have the prescription filled and bring your Ativan with you on the day of surgery, and our nurse will tell you when to take it
    • You will require an escort home and must arrange transportation prior to the day of surgery
  10. Infections are uncommon
    • Patients with a tumor that involves the mouth or lips, and the following conditions will receive a prescription for antibiotics or antivirals to take before surgery
      • Normally receive antibiotics before dental procedures
      • Artificial heart valve
      • History of infective endocarditis
      • Artificial joint replacement in the last 2 years
      • History of septic arthritis
      • Cold sores
    • Good hygiene reduces the risk of infection
      • Wash hair and skin in the shower or bath with shampoo, soap and water the evening before your surgery
      • If your tumor is in a hair bearing area (the scalp and temples, the beard area including the cheeks, around the mouth, chin and neck, the arm pits, the back or chest in men, or the genitals) carefully trim the hair with scissors, electric clippers or over the counter depilatory cream (e.g. Nair) by following packaging instructions and avoiding nicking or injury, the evening before surgery
      • If your tumor is on your hand or foot, trim your nails, and remove any artificial nails and nail polish on the affected hand or foot before surgery
  11. Some patients require a second appointment
    • On rare occasions, you may be referred to another reconstructive surgical specialist
    • Our office will coordinate this when necessary

On the day of your surgery

  1. Preparation:
    • Because the length of surgery is unpredictable and you may spend the entire day with us, avoid making other plans
    • Eat breakfast
    • Arrange for an escort home
    • Arrange for someone to be available to help for 24 hours after surgery
    • Arrive on time
  2. What to bring:
    • Water bottle
    • Snack
    • All prescription medication from home that needs to be taken during the day (including insulin)
    • 2 Extra-Strength Tylenol
    • Ativan pill for anxiety if needed
    • Antibiotics or antivirals we have prescribed for infection
  3. What to wear:
    • Comfortable clothing that might get stained, including a shirt that unbuttons or unzips, rather than requires pulling over your head
    • Old/worn clothing rather than new/expensive clothing
    • Comfortable closed toe shoes (e.g. sneakers)
    • Undershirts/underwear/pants and shoes generally do not to be removed but may become soiled with blood and body fluids
    • You may be asked to change into a gown
    • Leave jewelry and valuables at home
    • Wallets, watches and cellular telephones are permitted, however you may be asked to store bulky items that do not fit in your pockets in a locker. We will provide you with a combination lock for the day.
    • Avoid makeup, creams and perfumes
    • Wear seeing eyeglasses instead of contact lenses for surgery around the eye
  4. Contact us if you are running late:
    • Your surgery may be cancelled if you are late and we are unable to reach you within 15 minutes of your scheduled appointment
    • Arrive at 7:15am for surgery in the morning
    • Arrive at 12:15pm for surgery in the afternoon
    • Check in with the receptionist upon arrival