What is Skin Biopsy?

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A skin biopsy is a technique in which a small sample of skin is removed and tested. A microscope is used to examine the skin sample for signs of skin lesion, skin cancer, infections, or skin disorders such as psoriasis.

The following are the three main types of skin biopsies:

  • Shave biopsy: A doctor removes a small section of the top layers of skin)(epidermis and a portion of the dermis). with a tool that looks like a razor. 
  • Punch biopsy: A doctor removes a small core of skin (epidermis, dermis and superficial fat), including deeper layers, with a circular tool.
  • Excisional biopsy: A doctor removes an entire lump or region of abnormal skin, including a section of normal skin, down to or through the fatty layer of skin, with a little knife (scalpel).

A skin biopsy is used to diagnose or treat a variety of skin diseases and conditions, such as:

  • Skin infection
  • Inflammatory skin conditions
  • Suspicious moles
  • Bullous pemphigoid
  • Skin tags
  • Warts
  • Skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

What to expect after skin biopsy is performed, And After Care:

A skin biopsy is normally safe, but it can result in bleeding, bruising, scarring, infection, or an allergic reaction to a topical antibiotic.

  • After skin biopsy is performed on the patient, the doctor asks to keep the bandage on the biopsy site until the next day.
  • After you leave the doctor’s office, the biopsy site bleeds. This is more likely in those who are using blood thinners. Apply direct pressure to the wound for 20 minutes if this happens, then examine it, if bleeding persists apply pressure for another 20 minutes, if it still continues see your doctor.
  • Biopsies leave a small scar. A noticeable, elevated scar develops in certain persons. When a biopsy is performed on the neck or upper torso, such as the back or chest, the risk of this increases.
  • But, scars diminish with time. One or two years following the biopsy, the scar’s permanent color will be evident.
  • Stretching the skin might make the wound bleed or make the scar wider.
  • Wait until your doctor says that it Is fine to soak in a bathtub, pool, or hot tub – usually approximately seven days after the treatment.
  • Clean the biopsy site twice a day unless it’s on your scalp, in that case it should only be cleaned once a day.

Sources:

  1. Alguire PC, et al. Skin biopsy techniques. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 4, 2020.
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/skin-biopsy/about/pac-20384634

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