Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure that does not require you to be under full sedation. For many people, this is preferable to more invasive surgeries that require full sedation. However, if you have anxiety regarding medical procedures or general anxiety that may be induced during a stressful situation, then you may have a more difficult time preparing for and undergoing Mohs surgery. Below are five tips for preparing Mohs surgery if you suffer from anxiety.
Discuss Your Anxiety Honestly With Your Doctor
It is important that your doctor knows that you suffer from anxiety. If you take medication for anxiety, you may need to adjust your dosage or type of medication before scheduling the procedure if the medication you are on could have adverse reactions with any of the anesthesia used during the procedure. Additionally, your doctor may want to coach you in greater detail about what you can expect during the procedure. Finally, some people who have extreme anxiety are not good candidates for Mohs surgery. Your doctor may decide it is better to explore a procedure that involves general anesthesia.
Consider Taking Anti-anxiety Medication Before the Procedure
Many doctors will offer anti-anxiety medication before the procedure. This is referred to as conscious sedation. This is usually in the form of a sedative pill, although it can also be an injection or IV sedation. The pill is taken before the procedure while you are at the clinic. It should make you feel calm and relaxed and, in some cases, you may not remember the procedure. However, you will still be conscious and responsive during the procedure.
Have Someone With You the Day of the Procedure
The day of the procedure, you will spend most of your time waiting for results. Very little time will be spent in the procedure room undergoing tissue removal. While you are waiting for results, you can walk around, eat, use the bathroom, and read a book. If it helps to have a friend with you, most centers will allow one to accompany you. Talking with a friend can help distract you from the testing and keep you calm for subsequent rounds of tissue removal. If you choose to undergo conscious sedation, you will need a friend to drive you home at the end of the day.
Discuss What Level of Communication You Would Prefer From Your Doctor
Some people prefer to know everything that is going on while others prefer for doctors to perform the procedure without informing them about the details of the surgery. If the tissue to be removed is on your head or face, your eyes will likely be covered, so you will not be able to see what is happening. Tell your doctor before hand if you need a warning before each aspect of the procedure.
Alternatively, if the tissue to be removed is elsewhere on your body, you may be able to see what is happening. Let your doctor know if you would prefer an eye mask to prevent yourself from looking at the surgery site.
Schedule a Counseling Session for After Your Procedure If You Think It Will Be Necessary
If your anxiety relates to how you will look after the procedure or the healing process, it can be helpful to arrange psychological counseling a few days after the procedure. A psychologist can help you come to terms with the physical scarring left over from the procedure and reduce your anxiety related to your appearance or fears around your cancer.
If your doctor recommends Mohs for skin cancer surgery, it is one of the most successful, least invasive ways to remove skin cancer. However, if you suffer from anxiety, you may need to take extra steps to prepare for the procedure.