Is Vaseline the Secret to Recovery After Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is the most effective method to remove the most common types of skin cancer—basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC).


Mohs surgery is the most effective method to remove the most common types of skin cancer—basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC). The procedure is carried out in stages, removing small layers of tissue, and analyzing the results after each excision. It’s highly successful, with around a 99% cure rate for a new skin cancer and around 94% for one that’s previously been treated. 

Every patient will be given an individual recovery plan—and don’t be surprised if Vaseline is at the very top of the home treatment list.

An Overview of Mohs Surgery and the Role of Vaseline During Recovery

  • Mohs surgery: the basics
  • Why Vaseline? 

Mohs surgery: the basics

Mohs surgery is named after the surgeon who pioneered it in the 1930s, Frederic E. Mohs M.D. The technique has since been honed over many decades. Today it’s considered the gold standard of skin cancer treatment.

It’s done by removing the affected skin in thin layers. Each one is then examined by a pathologist to determine if any cancerous cells remain. The patient waits in the clinic during the whole process. If necessary, another layer of tissue is removed and examined. This carries on until only healthy skin cells remain. Once the area is deemed clear, the skin is closed and/or repaired as needed.

The surgeon has various options to do this depending on how deep the excision has been. 

These include:

  • Leaving the wound open to heal.
  • Closing it with stitches.
  • Reconstruction with a flap of skin taken from some neighboring tissue.
  • Performing a skin graft. 

Depending on the level of tissue repair needed, the Mohs surgeon may work with another specialist—such as a plastic surgeon—to finish off the procedure. In most cases, all these steps are completed in a single day.

Why Vaseline?

Vaseline is the number one ingredient to promote healthy tissue healing after Mohs surgery. It’s inexpensive and easy to obtain—it’s almost unbelievable that this simple topical application is the key to the fastest recovery.

Applying Vaseline post-Mohs surgery will:

  • Help reduce any post-surgical pain.
  • Helps keep the skin in and around the wound well hydrated.
  • Reduce the chances of infection.
  • Improve the speed of tissue cell regeneration.
  • Help prevent the formation of a scab (scabs increase the amount of time a wound takes to heal).
  • Help reduce any itching and irritation.

It’s important to use Vaseline on the wound and not petroleum jelly. While the two are very similar, Vaseline has undergone stringent purification procedures to ensure that it’s suitable for even the most sensitive of skin.

How Long to Use Vaseline After Mohs Surgery & Other Tips for Healthy Healing

  • Ice, elevation, abstinence, & general advice on how long to use Vaseline after Mohs surgery

Ice, elevation, abstinence, & general advice on how long to use Vaseline after Mohs Surgery

Your surgeon will give you instructions on how long to use Vaseline after your Mohs surgery. In general, you’ll apply a thin film of Vaseline over the wound around 3-4 times each day for anything up to 4 weeks.

Be sure to practice excellent hygiene when doing so. Carefully wash and dry your hands before touching the dressing (if you have one) and the wound. Use a single finger to remove the Vaseline from the pot and don’t return any excess. Close the lid as soon as you’ve taken out what you need.

Other tips for promoting fast, healthy wound healing that has the smallest amount of scarring include:

  • If a dressing is applied, don’t remove it for the first 24 hours. Ensure it always remains dry.
  • Use ice over the dressing in the first 24 hours after surgery. You can use an ice pack that’s cooled in the freezer or, if you don’t have one, a packet of frozen peas (or similar). Whichever you use, place it in a plastic bag to prevent moisture from being transferred to the dressing, Then wrap it in a clean tea towel. Place it over the wound for no longer than 20 minutes at a time every couple of hours.
  • Keep the area elevated above the heart as much as possible—at least for the first few days. If it’s a leg, for example, sit with it up on pillows or cushions. If the cancerous cells were on your face, sleep on multiple pillows so your head is raised higher than your chest.
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol for at least the first 48 hours post-surgery. Alcohol interferes with the healing process. 
  • Avoid any strenuous exercise for at least 2 weeks after the operation.
  • Avoid analgesics, such as naproxen, aspirin, or ibuprofen for at least 5 days post-surgery (unless otherwise instructed by your healthcare provider).
  • Change any dressings as instructed by your surgeon. This is likely to be once a day.
  • Follow cleaning instructions to the letter. This might include gently removing any crusting that appears around the wound and/or sutures. A mix of diluted peroxide is often recommended—again, this should be as per your surgeon’s instructions.

Showers can usually be taken after 48 hours—you might be told to keep the dressing in place while doing so and replace it afterward. Alternatively—and especially if the wound has sutures in place—you’ll be instructed to remove the dressing, cover with Vaseline, and then apply a waterproof dressing. Depending on where on the body it is, it might be simple enough to keep the wound away from the water. If not, your dressing skills will come into play,

Worried About a Mole or Need Mohs Surgery? Contact Bayou City Dermatology Today

Bayou City Dermatology offers the ultimate Mohs surgery option for treating skin cancer. Our highly skilled Mohs surgeons work closely with our plastic surgeons to ensure the very best result. From removing every scrap of cancerous tissue to the skillful closure of the wound that leaves the least trace possible, the treatments are tailored to your requirements and, in almost every case, are carried out on the same day.

Don’t delay any possible skin defect diagnosis and treatment. Head to and call our friendly team today to book an appointment.