A skin biopsy is a procedure in which a dermatologist cuts and removes a small piece of skin for testing. This piece of skin may help the dermatologist to diagnose diseases such as skin cancer, infections, or other skin disorders. A skin biopsy may also be done to make sure a tumor was completely removed after tumor surgeries.
There are four main types of skin biopsies:
1. Shave biopsy:
A dermatologist shaves or removes a thin layer from the top or outer part of a lesion.
2. Punch biopsy:
In this, a dermatologist will use an instrument called ‘punch’ to remove a circular section (small cylinder skin) through all layers of the lesion.
3. Excisional biopsy:
A scalpel is used to take off the entire lesion. This method is used for smaller lesions and an entire area of abnormal skin is removed.
4. Incisional biopsy:
A surgical blade is used to remove a small sample or piece of a large lesion.
Local anesthesia is used to numb the area being treated. The biopsy area will be cleaned. The skin is then sampled using one of the techniques of the above procedure. Shave biopsies mostly do not require stitches while punch, excisional, and incisional biopsies will usually be closed with sutures. The procedure usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. Once the procedure is complete, a clean dressing is placed to cover the area.