A skin biopsy is a procedure by which cells or skin samples from the surface of the body are removed and sent to a special laboratory that examines it under a microscope to diagnose or rule out certain skin conditions and diseases. Doctors may call an area of abnormal tissue a lesion, mass or growth. Usually, a doctor recommends a biopsy when a physical examination suggests an area of tissue may be suspicious. Additionally, some biopsies are performed to remove moles for medical and/or cosmetic concerns.
The physicians at Brentview Medical Clinic are equipped and skilled in performing biopsies on the face and body. Before each biopsy, the area is cleansed and then a local anesthetic is applied to numb the area. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, there should be no pain associated with the procedure. The type of lesion being removed determines what technique is used. There are three main types of skin biopsies; shave biopsy, punch biopsy and excisional biopsy. Depending on the technique, stitches may or may not be used.
For an excisional biopsy, a Brentview Medical physician uses a scalpel to cut the lesion and a border of good skin surrounding it. The physician will determine the size of this border. Stitches are placed either deep within the skin, or on the upper surface, depending on the depth of the excision.
For the procedure that involves no stitches, a scalpel is used to shave the lesion, allowing it to be flush with the surrounding skin. Then using an electrical instrument, the doctor cauterizes the area to stop any bleeding. Topical antibiotic is applied to reduce risk of infection. Shaving removes the protruding surface of a mole, but it can leave mole cells beneath the skin and may grow back. Shave biopsies that do not require stiches are the most common type of biopsy performed.
Biopsies at Brentview Medical Clinic typically take less than 15 minutes to perform.