A skin biopsy is a procedure to remove cells or skin samples for examination in a laboratory. An excisional biopsy is the removal of a skin lesion by completely cutting it out. Dr. Alexis performs biopsies and removals of suspicious moles and skin cancers as well as benign lesions such as skin tags. These procedures are performed under local anaesthetic and detailed aftercare and follow-up are provided. Histologic results are typically available within 1-2 weeks.
What are the main types of skin biopsy?
There are five main types of skin biopsies. Dr. Alexis will advise which method is required depending on the type of lesion and discuss this with you before any procedure.
- A shave biopsy uses a blade or scalpel to remove a thin layer of skin.
- A punch biopsy is used if a deeper sample of skin is required and stitches are required.
- A snip biopsy involves the use of sharp surgical scissors to remove a hanging growth.
- A curette biopsy involves the use of a spoon-shaped tool with a sharp edge, called a curette, to scrape a skin growth.
- An excisional biopsy is the deepest type of biopsy. Performed with a scalpel, the whole visible growth is removed and stitches are required.
Your skin biopsy appointment - what to expect
Depending on the location of the skin biopsy, you may be asked to undress and change into a gown. The area of the skin to be biopsied is cleansed and marked to outline the biopsy area. A local anaesthetic will be injected into the biopsy site to numb the area. Aside from a slight, short-lived tingling sensation from the anaesthetic, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort during the procedure. After the biopsy, a single stitch or stitches may be needed, typically only after a punch or excisional biopsy. A dressing is then applied to help protect the area.
Your skin biopsy – aftercare and downtime
You will be given full aftercare information including care of the area and when you can bathe and exercise. Avoid doing anything that might bump or stretch the skin before it heals.
Healing can take several weeks. All biopsies cause a small scar, and everyone’s healing potential is different. Dr. Alexis will discuss aftercare and your scarring risk with you before your procedure.
Dr. Alexis will send your skin biopsy to a laboratory where the tissue is looked at under a microscope. Once the results are received back from the lab, you will be contacted to discuss the results and recommendations for any next steps.