Skin cancer treatment often comes with some anxieties for patients. They often want to know about the cost of Mohs surgery and wonder whether health insurance policies will cover it. Many of the patients we serve from Naperville and other suburbs aren’t sure if dermatology procedures are considered cosmetic in the eyes of insurance companies.
Overall, Mohs surgery is a very effective medical treatment for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, and it also provides results that are more cosmetically pleasing than other skin cancer treatments. When performed by a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon, the technique’s success rate is between 95 and 99%.
More importantly, Mohs surgery generally meets the standard of “medically necessary,” which is what most health insurance companies require before they agree to cover the cost of a procedure. Medicare covers the cost of Mohs surgery in most cases, too. This sets Mohs surgery apart from other dermatology treatments, such as chemical peels, that are considered elective are typically not covered.
I’ve written about the procedure in more detail in an earlier post on this blog, but essentially, Mohs surgery removes the skin around a cancerous lesion in very thin layers. As each layer is removed, it’s examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Once the surgeon reaches a layer with no cancer cells present, this means that the procedure has successfully removed the lesion, and the surgery is over. The technique works to remove all of the cancer cells while preserving as much of the surrounding tissue as possible.
Any surgeon is technically capable of performing Mohs surgery, but it’s only with specialized training that surgeons can successfully get both the medical and aesthetic results that it’s known for. During a Mohs procedure, the surgeon removes the minimum amount of tissue necessary to excise the cancerous cells. This technique avoids unnecessary scarring and disfigurement. And because the procedure is concentrated solely on the place where cancerous tissue is present, it requires only local anesthesia.
In some cases, I work with Dr. Rios, who uses his reconstructive plastic surgery training to close larger wounds immediately after I complete the Mohs surgery. That means our skin cancer patients rarely have to leave without having their case completely resolved, thanks to the teamwork of Dr. Rios and myself.