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Medical Dermatology

Melanoma Surgery

Melanoma is the most dangerous and life-threatening form of skin cancer. Fortunately, early detection and treatment lead to high cure rates.

Full removal of melanoma lesions by your board-certified California Skin Institute physician or advanced practitioner dramatically decreases melanoma’s likelihood of penetrating the lower layers of tissue and spreading to the lymph system and other parts of the body.

How Melanoma Surgery works

Melanoma diagnosis and surgery begins with a biopsy of the suspected lesion. The affected area will be treated with a local anesthetic before your physician collects a skin sample by either punch biopsy or excisional biopsy.

In a punch biopsy, the doctor will use a circular tool to remove a small core of skin that includes the deeper layers. In an excisional biopsy, the doctor uses a small knife to cut away an entire affected area along with a portion of the normal skin, possibly including the fatty layer.

For thin melanomas measuring ≤ 1 mm, your surgeon may completely remove the lesion using Mohs micrographic surgery. During Mohs micrographic surgery, the removal of the melanoma occurs in stages, including laboratory testing, while the patient waits.

Typically requiring only local anesthetic prior to incision, Mohs surgery is performed by a team of California Skin Institute board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians, practitioners and pathologists who are specially trained to remove cancerous tissue, analyze lab specimens to ensure they have clear margins (no cancer), and close or reconstruct the wound.


Treatment results will vary, talk to a practitioner to see if this treatment or procedure is right for you.

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