The Origins and Gradual Development of Mohs Surgery


The roots of Mohs surgery date back to the early 1930s, when as a medical student, Frederic E. Mohs, first worked on research projects focused on finding viable treatments for cancer.

Initially mentored by zoology expert Michael Guyer, Dr. Mohs continued and gradually perfected his work throughout the next few decades, until the 1970s and ‘80s, when advancements in medical research and technology finally made it possible to establish the detailed procedure required for Mohs micrographic surgery.

The Work of Dr. Frederic Mohs

After completing medical school, Dr. Mohs established the first rudimentary lab, for what would become Mohs surgery. In 1936, he successfully treated his first cancer patient. During the 1940s, the practice transitioned to the department of surgery, and Dr. Mohs continued to refine the procedure, aided by dedicated colleagues and technicians.

The Introduction of Microscopic Examination:

Dr. Mohs made a pivotal discovery in 1953 when he introduced microscopic examination of excised tissue during surgery. This marked a significant breakthrough, allowing for precise control during procedures.

The Popularization of Fresh Tissue Technique:

Dr. Theodore Tromovitch’s paper on microscopically controlled excisions in the following years contributed to the widespread adoption of the fresh tissue technique among surgeons. This technique allowed for same-day surgeries and closures, significantly expediting the practice.

Confirmation of Success:

In 1969, Dr. Mohs reported successful use of the fresh tissue technique for treating 66 basal and squamous cell carcinomas, solidifying its effectiveness.

Technological Advancements:

During the 1970s and ’80s, the development of cryostats, automatic tissue staining machines, and other technological advancements further improved the Mohs surgery technique. After more than four decades of gradual development, the modern version of Mohs surgery Parker clinic is that we recognize today emerged, with contributions from countless Mohs surgeons.