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Skin Biopsy

Skin biopsy is a technique in which a skin lesion is removed to be sent to a pathologist to render a microscopic diagnosis. It is usually done under local aesthetic in a dermatologist’s office and results are available in 4-10 days.

What are the types of skin biopsy?

There are four main types:

  • Shave biopsy
  • Punch biopsy
  • Excisional biopsy
  • Incisional biopsy

Why is it done?

All skin biopsy is done to diagnose a skin condition if it is clinically not clear.
E.g. Papulo-squamous disorders, Blistering disorders, precancerous growths.

How is it done?

Several different methods may be used to obtain a skin sample depending on the size and location of the skin lesion. Sample is placed in formaldehyde solution or in a sterile container if infection is suspected. Tissue is examined under a microscope.

Shave Biopsy- After a local anesthetic, a surgical scalpel is used to shave off the growth. Stitches are not needed.

Punch Biopsy- After local anesthetic, a sharp tool (PUNCH) is placed over lesion, pushed down, and slowly rotated to remove a circular piece of skin. Skin sample is lifted up with forceps and cut from tissue below. Stitches may be required if sample is bigger.

Excisional Biopsy- After local anesthetic injection, entire lesion is removed with a scalpel.

How it feels?

You will feel a brief stinging pain when local anesthetic is injected. You should not feel any pain when sample is removed.

After the procedure:

Your doctor will give both specific instructions on how to care for your biopsy site. Keep the site clean and dry until it heals completely. Stitches will be taken out 3-4 days after biopsy, depending upon site.

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