Skin lesion biopsy

What is a Skin Lesion Biopsy?

A skin lesion biopsy is a medical procedure used to remove a small sample of tissue from a lesion on the skin for diagnostic purposes. The biopsy is typically performed to rule-out the presence of abnormal, cancerous or pre-cancerous tissue. Typically, the procedure is done to obtain information about the kind of lesion and any underlying conditions. Skin biopsies can be performed using a few different methods, such as punch, shave, or excisional biopsy.

Preparation for a Skin Lesion Biopsy

Prior to the biopsy procedure, the doctor may perform a physical examination of the lesion and may order an imaging study to garner more details about the lesion. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be performed in a doctor's office or in an outpatient surgery center. The preparation for the procedure typically includes cleansing the skin with an antiseptic and applying a local anesthesia.

Types of Skin Lesion Biopsy

The type of biopsy performed will depend on the size and location of the lesion.

  • Punch Biopsy: This procedure involves using a sharp, cylindrical instrument with a sharp edge to take a small circular sample of tissue from the lesion.
  • Shave Biopsy: This method typically involves using a special razor or scalpel to shave off the top layer of the lesion.
  • Excisional Biopsy: An incisional biopsy involves cutting into the lesion and removing the entire area. This type of biopsy may be recommended if the lesion is larger, deep or suspicious.

Why Get a Skin Lesion Biopsy?

A skin lesion biopsy may be recommended for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To diagnose an infection or virus
  • To diagnose a skin disorder such as psoriasis or eczema
  • To diagnose a skin cancer or pre-cancerous condition
  • To determine the cause of a rash or skin irritation
  • To determine the effectiveness of a treatment

Risks of Skin Lesion Biopsy

The risks of skin lesion biopsy are typically minimal, and may include:

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring

When to Get a Skin Lesion Biopsy

A skin lesion biopsy may be recommended when a doctor has concerns about an existing lesion or if a skin biopsy is necessary to diagnose an underlying condition.