Skin biopsy is a procedure used to diagnose specific skin conditions or diseases.
Why is a Skin Biopsy Performed?
A skin biopsy is done to aid in the diagnosis of certain skin conditions, including infections, inflammatory conditions, and skin cancer. Removing a small sample of the affected skin allows the tissue to be examined more closely under a microscope and helps determine the cause of the condition.
Skin biopsies are useful diagnostic tests and reveal important information about the tissue being examined. A biopsy will also help your dermatologist in selecting the right treatment.
Before and During a Skin Biopsy
Skin biopsy is a routine procedure that can be done in your dermatologist’s office. Prior to the biopsy procedure, the skin is cleansed with a special soap or solution to reduce the risk of infection.
A numbing agent is then injected into the area of skin to be biopsied and the procedure is quickly performed. General anesthesia is not normally necessary.
Types of Skin Biopsies
There are a number of different skin biopsy techniques. The technique used depends on the size of the area being biopsied and the lesion or skin area involved. Types of skin biopsies include:
- Excision biopsy – this type of biopsy requires the removal of the entire portion of skin affected by the condition. An excision biopsy may be used in cases where skin cancer is suspected.
- Punch biopsy – utilizes a round, circular-shaped instrument designed to remove a cylindrical sample of tissue. The instrument rotates as it moves through layers of the epidermis, dermis and fat to obtain a full-thickness tissue sample. Punch biopsies are performed on skin cancers and pigmented skin spots as well as other conditions.
- Shave biopsy – uses a scalpel to remove a small skin growth through scraping or shaving the layers of the lesion. This type of biopsy may also be used to diagnose skin infections.
After a Skin Biopsy
Your dermatologist will provide you with written instructions on how to care for the biopsy site. It’s important to keep the wound clean and dry until healing occurs.
If sutures were required, your dermatology office will schedule removal within one to two weeks. Any redness, swelling or pain at incision site should be reported to your dermatologist.