Skin biopsies are performed by dermatologists as a way to gather specific information regarding a patient’s condition. Taking a biopsy includes removing small samples of skin or skin cells from a surface of the body.
Skin biopsies are diagnostic in nature. They help us rule out diseases and skin conditions. Biopsies may also be performed to remove skin lesions. A number of diseases and skin conditions may require biopsy for diagnosis, including:
- Suspicious growths or moles
- Skin cancers such as basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma
- Skin tags
- Infections of the skin
- Inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis
- Actinic keratosis
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The biopsy procedure may be performed in one of a few ways. Before taking a biopsy, the site is numbed with local anesthetic. Once the anesthetic has affected the area, no discomfort should be felt during the skin biopsy, performed in our Stafford or Arlington dermatology practice.
Our dermatologist may choose from three types of biopsy procedures including:
- Shave biopsy, in which tissue is removed gently, using a sharp instrument called a curette. This instrument has a loop at one end that scrapes skin cells and tissue to the desired depth. Minor bleeding may occur from a shave biopsy, but will diminish as pressure is applied to the area.
- Excision involves an incision made with a scalpel to remove surface skin as well as a small amount of tissue that lies beneath. This type of biopsy, as well, is performed under local anesthesia. After the biopsy, sutures will be inserted to close the small incision.
- Punch biopsies are completed with a specialized, circular instrument that removes skin and a small amount of tissue.
Most skin biopsies are completed in about 15 minutes from start to finish. Throughout the process, we are always happy to answer patients’ questions. Your comfort and well being are a priority to us. For more information on our skin biopsy or our other services, contact our Stafford or Arlington office.