A skin biopsy refers to a procedure that involves the removal of cells or your skin samples from the body for examination in the laboratory. Doctors use this procedure to diagnose skin conditions. Your doctor also removes abnormal tissues from the skin.
Three types of skin biopsies are given below.
- Shave Biopsy: In this procedure, a doctor uses a tool similar to a razor to remove the top layer of your skin in a small section.
- Punch Biopsy: The doctor uses a specific type of circular tool in this procedure to remove a small core of your skin, including some more profound layers.
- Excisional Biopsy: Doctors remove an entire lump in this procedure through a small knife. He may remove areas of your abnormal skin, including your normal skin portion.
Why Is Biopsy Done?
A skin biopsy is done to diagnose or treat specific conditions of your skin and other diseases, including actinic keratosis, warts, skin tags, some growths, and suspicious moles.
Doctors also use these procedures to treat skin infections, bullous pemphigoid, and certain skin inflammatory conditions. They diagnose and treat certain cancers like squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and basal cell carcinoma using skin biopsy.
Generally, a skin biopsy is a safe procedure, but still, you may get some complications, including bruising, infection, bleeding, scarring, and allergic reactions to certain topical antibiotics.
Preparing For The Skin Biopsy
Tell your doctor if you are getting the following symptoms before the skin biopsy.
- I have had certain reactions to the tape
- Have a history of some skin infections like impetigo
- If you are allergic to some local anesthetics like antiseptics or topic antibiotics
- Have been diagnosed with some bleeding disorders
- If you have faced excessive bleeding after some other medical procedures
- If you are taking certain blood thinners like aspirin, warfarin, or aspirin-containing medications
What To Expect?
The doctor may ask you to change into a gown for the procedure of skin biopsy. It depends on the location where the doctor is going to do the procedure of skin biopsy. A nurse or doctor clears your skin area for the procedure. They may mark the biopsy area.
After this, you will receive medication to numb the site of the biopsy. Doctors usually do it through an infection using a thin needle. Numbing medications sometimes induce a burning sensation for a few seconds in your skin. You will not feel any discomfort and pain after this.
The doctor pricks the affected area of your skin to check if anesthesia is working. He asks you if you are feeling any sensation or not. The procedure of skin biopsy usually takes fifteen minutes. It includes preparation time, instructions for care, and dressing the wound.
During Procedure Of Skin Biopsy
What you should expect during the procedure is associated with the biopsy type you are going to have.
- For Shave Biopsy: The doctor uses a double-edged razor or a sharp tool to cut the tissue. The depth of the cut may vary. Shave biopsy can cause bleeding. Doctors will apply topical medication and pressure to stop bleeding.
- For Punch Biopsy: The doctor cuts the top fat layer that is present beneath the skin. To close the wound, the doctor applies stitches. To protect the wound, the doctor uses a bandage. It also prevents bleeding.
The doctor may ask you to keep bandages over the site of the biopsy for one day. The area of biopsy sometimes bleeds when you leave the doctor’s office. It may occur in people who are taking medications for blood thinning.
Apply direct pressure to the area of wounds for 20 minutes if it occurs. Apply pressure for 20 minutes more if still bleeding is occurring. Contact your doctor if the bleeding continues. You may get a small scar after a biopsy because all biopsies lead to small scars.
A raised and prominent scar develops in some people. When a biopsy is done, the risk of scar increases. These scars may fade gradually. Do not bump the area. Avoid certain other activities that cause stretching to your skin.
Skin stretching can cause bleeding of your skin. Do not soak in swimming pools and bathtubs for seven days after getting the procedure. Healing of scar or wound can take one or two weeks.