What is a Skin Biopsy?

A skin biopsy is a medical procedure in which a Physician removes a small sample of skin for testing and examination. This sample is then used to diagnose conditions such as cancer, infections, or other disorders. To provide the highest quality Dermatology care to our patients, our skin biopsies are interpreted by a highly specialized Pathologist with extra training in skin diseases (a Dermatopathologist).

Will a Skin Biopsy hurt?

We numb the area before we do any biopsy or procedure. We use a very small needle to inject numbing medication into the area being sampled so no pain is felt during the biopsy procedure.

What are the Different Types of Skin Biopsy?

Depending on what skin condition is being diagnosed, your Dermatologist will select one of several types of skin biopsies:

  • Shave biopsy: The doctor will shave a thin layer from the top or around a lesion using a tool that resembles a razor blade.
  • Punch biopsy: Using a circular tool called a “punch”, our doctor removes a small section of the lesion. Your Dermatologist may put in 1-3 stitches after a punch biopsy to ensure optimal healing of the site.
  • Excisional biopsy: Your Dermatologist will use a scalpel to take off the entire lesion and often use stitches to close the biopsy site.
  • Incisional biopsy: Using a scalpel, your doctor removes a small sample of a large lesion.

Which Conditions Can a Skin Biopsy Help Diagnose?

A skin biopsy is necessary to either diagnose or rule out several skin conditions including:

  • Skin Cancer
  • Actinic keratosis
  • Blistering skin disorders
  • Inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis or psoriasis
  • Skin tags
  • Skin infections
  • Suspicious moles

Caring for Your Wound After a Skin Biopsy

Learning how to properly care for your wound after a biopsy will help optimize the scar’s appearance and speed recovery. Here are some general guidelines you should follow after the procedure:

  • Do not do anything that raises your blood pressure or heart rate for at least 48 hours -No exercising, lifting, bending, stretching, or straining.
  • Do not exercise heavily or lift heavy objects until after the sutures are removed (if your Dermatologist put stitches into the biopsy site)
  • Do not drink alcohol for 48 hours.
  • Leave the bandage on your wound for 24-48 hours.
  • Be sure to keep the area clean and dry.
  • After 24-48 hours, wash the area daily twice a day with gentle soap and water.
  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic, please take as directed and finish the prescription course.
  • Your surgical site has been injected with a long-lasting local anesthetic. This will begin to wear off in 4-6 hours. You can take a dose of pain medicine before this occurs for your comfort (as directed by your Primary Care Physician).

At St. Petersburg Skin and Laser, we are proud to have highly experienced Board Certified Dermatologists diagnose and treat our patients. When you come to our practice, you can expect the highest quality of care for any skin condition.If you think you may need a skin biopsy, please call us at 727-474-9399 and our friendly staff will book an appointment.

My patients want to look and feel their best at any age. I love that I can help them achieve that by combining state-of-the-art technology, the latest medical evidence, and my advanced skill set and artistic eye

Dr. Kat Kesty

Founder Of St. Petersburg Skin and Laser