When is a Skin Biopsy Necessary?

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If your dermatologist suggests a skin biopsy, you probably have questions about what the procedure is like and why it is necessary. There are several reasons why a dermatologist may suggest a skin biopsy, and patients are often surprised to find how simple and fast the procedure is. Before your next appointment, here are some things you need to know about skin biopsies.

What is a Skin Biopsy?

A skin biopsy is a procedure in which your dermatologist removes a small amount of skin so that it can be tested in a lab for diseases such as cancer or infection. Your dermatologist may order a skin biopsy following a visual exam to check a suspicious mole or lesion or to determine the cause of a rash or other skin condition and help your dermatologist create the proper treatment plan.

When are Skin Biopsies Necessary?

Skin biopsies are commonly recommended if your dermatologist suspects that a mole, rash, or lesion could be skin cancer. In addition to a visual exam, your dermatologist will also ask questions about your personal and family health history to determine your risk and whether biopsy is necessary. After carefully examining your skin, they will determine the lesions that are the most worrisome and remove a small section from this area. Biopsies are completed quickly and can be performed during the same appointment as your regular check-up with your dermatologist as necessary.

A skin biopsy may be recommended if your dermatologist suspects the following issues, among others:

How are Skin Biopsies Performed?

There are three basic types of skin biopsies: shave biopsy, punch biopsy, and excisional biopsy. In all three of these procedures, the area is first cleaned thoroughly, usually with alcohol, and a local anesthetic is used to ensure that you’re comfortable throughout the procedure.

Shave Biopsy

During a shave biopsy, a razor-like tool is used to remove a small part of the top layer of the skin. More specifically, the epidermis and a portion of the dermis are removed through this type of biopsy.

Punch Biopsy

A punch biopsy uses a circular blade to carefully and precisely remove a round section of the skin. During a punch biopsy, the tissue removed includes the epidermis, dermis, and superficial fat layers.

Excisional Biopsy

An excisional biopsy utilizes a scalpel, or small surgical knife, to remove the entire mole, growth, or lesion as well as some of the surrounding normal skin. Like punch biopsies, excisional biopsies remove portions of the epidermis, dermis, and underlying fat.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with one of our expert dermatologists, call HMGS Dermatology in Camden, NJ at (856) 644-6678 or Marlton, NJ at (856) 452-8586. You may also request an appointment through our online form.