Mohs Surgery
November 6, 2019 | by Kelly Griffith-Bauer MD

Every scar has a story – falling off a bike, playing with siblings, or an unexpected surgery. Scars provide a cosmetic, and often quite public, record of both fond memories and mortality.

Learn more about Mohs micrographic surgery and minimizing scarring in this video.

Very rarely have I come across someone who desires to have a scar. Instead, I have witnessed two significantly contrasting patient populations: patients who are troubled and embarrassed by their scars, and patients who consider their scars to be badges of honor, or symbols of survival.

The aim of Mohs micrographic surgery is to treat skin cancer by surgically removing the cancer, while preserving as much tissue as possible. Unfortunately, such surgeries are most often required in cosmetically sensitive areas that receive frequent sun exposure, such as the face, ears, scalp and neck.

My role as a Mohs surgeon is first and foremost to treat and clear skin cancers in my patients. However, once the cancer has been treated, I recognize that the potential for both physical and emotional scars can greatly influence the quality of life of my patients. With this understanding and passion, I’m always thinking about my patients first and use the same care that I would with my own family. I am committed to supporting patients through surgery and minimizing scarring.

I have two main practices consisting of Mohs micrographic surgery and dermatologic surgery. At The Polyclinic, I’m able to perform procedures for certain diagnoses during a clinic visit without patients having to go to another office including:

  • Melanomas on the face
  • Melanomas on the body not requiring a sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • Atypical moles
  • Non-melanoma skin cancers (such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Cysts and lipomas
  • Nail avulsion (procedure to remove your nail plate)
  • Nail matrix biopsy for diagnosis

After a procedure, I have tips to minimize scarring. Each patient’s healing is different, but these are a few to help you through the healing process.

Minimizing Scarring: Go-to Tips

  • Wear the dressing applied to the wound and be sure to follow instructions from your doctor. It’s important to not take it off too early.
  • Keep the area moist with Vaseline.
  • Communicate with your doctor. If you’re experiencing pain or an issue, don’t wait to ask a question and contact them right away.
  • Healing can take time so be patient. Each person is different. Even the best cosmetic outcome may not be invisible on your skin, but we will use every method to avoid any scarring.

Sun Protection: Go-to Tips

When I’m not at the office, I’m outside hiking, running, boating, and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Even though the sun may not be out in Seattle, it’s always important to be protected from UV exposure and finding ways that work with for your daily routine.

Here are some tips that I share with my patients, friends, and family:

  • Wear SPF 50 or higher when planning on being in the sun for longer periods of time. Many of my favorite products can be found in a store near you. A couple of my favorites: Sun Bum sunscreen lotion and the Sun Bum Zinc stick.
  • Make it easy. If it’s visible, I will use it. I like stashing sunscreen in convenient places. I have sunscreen in every bag I carry and like to leave it out on the counter so I put it on before I leave the house.
  • Make sure to have your sunglasses close by and keep an extra pair in your car.
  • Re-apply sunscreen and use the two shot-glass rule. Putting on sunscreen is not one and done. Apply often, especially if you will be outside frequently or especially if you’re swimming. The amount of sunscreen for full body application is about the size of two shot glasses.
  • Wear clothes with a tight weave. SPF clothing has tighter fabric design to keep more light out so you have extra protection.
  • Incorporate hats into your style. I always bring a hat to wear when I am running errands. If your hat doesn’t have a brim, make sure to remember your ears when applying sunscreen. Ears are not invincible to the sun’s rays.

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Bauer, call 206-860-5595.

Kelly Bauer with Dog_Resized Dr. Bauer practices Mohs Surgery at The Polyclinic Nordstrom Tower and dermatologic surgery at The Polyclinic Downtown. She has spent most of her life in the Pacific Northwest and has a deep appreciation for this beautiful part of the country. You will often find her running, camping, hiking, boating, or skiing in our incredible outdoor spaces with her husband, Jeremy, son, Braxton, and rescue dog, Sami. In addition, Dr. Griffith-Bauer is a photographer and loves taking natural light photographs of the people in her life. She is always looking for creative ways to incorporate her creative side into her work as a dermatologist.