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Mohs Surgery on Your Lips: What You Need to Know

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mohs surgery on the lips

Are you considering Mohs micrographic surgery to treat a lesion on your lips?

If so, you're likely wondering if it is a valid option and what potential risks or effects that may result.

In this article, we'll provide an in-depth look at Mohs surgery for the lips and discuss its benefits, risks, and tips for post-surgery.

By understanding this specialized procedure, you can make an informed decision about having lip surgery.

What is Mohs Surgery of the Lips?

Mohs surgery (also known as Mohs micrographic surgery) is a specialized type of surgery commonly used to remove facial skin cancers, such as those from the lips.

This precise procedure requires a special kind of doctor – one who is both a dermatologist and a surgeon – or two separate doctors working together in coordinated surgical teams.

An important feature that makes this method so effective is that it allows for both cancer removal and reconstruction in the same surgical setting.

Mohs Surgery Lip Area Procedure

Mohs surgery can be used to treat both lower lip and upper lip cancers, as well as other forms of skin cancer such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

The procedure typically involves removing one layer at a time, carefully examining it under a microscope to determine whether the targeted area has been completely removed.

This helps reduce the occurrence of complications, such as excessive bleeding or nerve damage, due to over-excising the affected areas.

Due to its extremely precise nature, Mohs surgery can provide more successful outcomes than many alternative methods, such as wide local excision (which involves simply cutting out a larger portion of tissue), radiation therapy, chemotherapy or cryosurgery (freezing).

Healthy tissue surrounding the lesion is always preserved during this procedure and normal functioning may be restored faster than with other treatments available.

Following complete removal of cancerous spots on the lips, reconstructive techniques can be performed right away by either the same doctor or a plastic surgeon, depending upon what’s best for each patient’s individual case.

The goal here is to create optimal aesthetic results while providing maximum peace of mind related to any post-operative risk concerns with clear margins remaining around where any skin cancer had been present on the lips.

How Painful is Mohs Surgery on Lip?

Mohs surgery is becoming increasingly popular for treating skin cancer due to its high success rates.

On the lip, this procedure is often considered one of the most painless treatments available.

This is because it begins with numbing the area so that patients don't experience any discomfort during treatment.

They may feel some slight pressure when a sample of tissue is removed, but this is usually minor.

After the excision, the wound may be sutured or left open to heal naturally.

Patients should then be able to return home and get back to their everyday routine with little disruption in lifestyle.

Tips for Lip Swelling After Mohs Surgery

Post-surgery lip swelling is normal and expected after Mohs surgery.

To prevent scarring and promote healing, it is important to keep the area covered and moist with Vaseline.

It is advised to refrain from vigorous exercising for 3 weeks, though walking at a slower pace on the treadmill is fine.

Most patients’ swelling and redness should subside within a month.

How long should you ice after Mohs surgery?

After having a Mohs surgery, it is recommended to apply ice or a cold compress every hour for the first 48 hours.

The coldness can help to reduce inflammation and swelling while numbing the nerve endings of any pain you may be feeling.

However, if you experience persistent and abnormal pain, contact your doctor immediately to address any lingering issues.

Mohs Surgery Lip Recovery: What to Expect and Tips for a Smooth Recovery

After undergoing Mohs surgery on your lip, you will likely feel some soreness and swelling in the area. With proper post-operative care and rest, lip recovery can be quick and without complications. 

Post-Op Precautions

The healing process on the lips can take 7-14 days depending on the size of the area treated. 

Be sure to follow all post-op precautions from your doctor such as avoiding direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, not rubbing or touching the site of removal, reducing physical activity for at least one week, not drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours after your surgery, applying ice packs over gauze pads if needed for swelling relief, etc.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptom experienced by those who undergo Mohs surgery is moderate pain in the lip. This may be worse at night but usually subsides within a week with proper rest and taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

You may also experience itching around the healing lip due to irritated nerves ending in the area around where the skin was removed. 

If this itching becomes unbearable, talk to your doctor about using an emollient cream designed specifically for use on skin irritations (available over the counter).

Reddening of skin is common around areas that have undergone abrasion (which happens during Mohs surgery). 

If in doubt whether something looks wrong or if you experience any other unnatural symptoms, please contact your physician immediately.

Care Tips

In addition to taking prescribed medications, you should also consider the following:

  • Keep your wound covered with non-stick bandages overnight until advised by your doctor otherwise.
  • Changing bandages twice a day should be enough but more frequent changes are recommended near open wounds - (even then just change when necessary, making sure you're always wearing clean gloves when doing so)
  • Make sure you regularly check for signs of infection every day like redness/warmth around site if associated wound starts oozing clear/white fluid (which indicates infected area),
  • Increase drainage/bleeding (which can often happen with open wounds) etcetera - those typically require prompt medical attention so don't hesitate to reach out.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure near the affected area until advised otherwise by an attending physician.

What can you NOT do after Mohs surgery

Following Mohs surgery, it is important to take the right steps after to ensure that your wound heals properly and quickly.

Here are activities that you should avoid:

  • Removing steri-strips
  • Submerging the wound in water
  • Allowing a scab to form
  • Exposing the wound for long periods of time
  • Elevating your heart rate for long periods until fully healed
  • Exposing the wound to prolonged sunlight exposure
  • Taking aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen for 5 days unless previously prescribed by your doctor
  • Drinking alcohol for 48 hours after the surgery
  • Showering and getting the area wet 24 hours post-op

Knowing what to avoid and following all postoperative instructions from their doctor are essential steps in ensuring your wound heals properly and quickly post Mohs surgery.


a dermatologist

We understand your desire to look and feel good. So we provide technical expertise, tailored attention and the latest treatments to give you that perfect shine.

Cost-effective Mohs surgery serves as your key to unlocking the door of confidence again.

Why wait longer? Contact us now for more information or to schedule an appointment - let Dermatology & Skin Health help you reclaim your self-assurance!

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