Skin Cancer Surgery

What is skin cancer surgery?

Surgery is a standard treatment for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. The surgical extraction technique can depend on the type of skin cancer, how large the cancer is, where it is on the body, and other factors. Most often, the surgery happens in a doctor’s office or hospital clinic using a local anaesthetic (numbing medicine).

Doctors use Mohs surgery (also called Mohs micrographic surgery) to treat skin cancer. The goal is to remove as much of it as possible while saving the healthy tissue around it.

Is surgery right for me?

Your GP must assess the skin cancer before you see a Specialist Plastic Surgeon.  After confirmation that you have skin cancer, you can choose to have this extracted by a Specialist Surgeon.  You will need a referral from your GP for this.  A Specialist Surgeon is ideal if the skin cancer is large or in a prominent location on the body where you would like minimal scarring.

Potential complications

The removal of skin cancers is a delicate procedure.  Your surgeon needs to ensure they have completely removed the cancerous cells, with a clear spacing around the excision site.  Depending on where the skin cancer is on the site, such as the leg, scars can split, if they aren’t given adequate time to heal properly.

All surgery comes with some degree of risk. For example, bleeding and infection are possible. Your surgeon will fully explain potential complications during the consultation process and commit to supporting you during recovery.

By seeking out the services of a member of ASAPS, your surgery will take place in an accredited facility. Meaning, it meets the required standards of sterilisation and infection control.  In Australia, these are the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NS & QHS Standards).  On this basis, patients should avoid having surgery in facilities that cannot provide evidence of meeting the NS & QHS Standards.


During surgery

Your time in surgery may vary according to your needs and the specifics of the procedures being performed. Your surgeon will explain everything to you during consultation.


One of the most important reasons for choosing a Specialist Plastic Surgeon is that they will be by your side throughout the recovery process, ready to reassure and support you at every stage. Ask your surgeon what recovery will involve for you.