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Skin Biopsy

Skin Biopsy Introduction

Your doctor may want to obtain a sample of skin in order to diagnose diseases of the skin, such as those caused by bacteria, fungi, or other chronic skin conditions. This procedure is called a skin biopsy.

A biopsy of a lesion of the skin, such as in mole removal or tumor removal, can help your doctor tell the difference between a skin cancer and a benign, or noncancerous, lesion. The skin sample obtained during a biopsy is sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope.

How the procedure is performed

  • In an excision biopsy, the entire area of suspect skin is cut out. Excision biopsy is normally done with a scalpel. Stitches are used to close the incision.

  • In a punch biopsy, a sharp cookie cutter -like instrument is used to remove a small cylinder of skin. Sometimes stitches are necessary to close this type of biopsy wound.

  • The outermost part of a lesion can also be shaved off with a scalpel. This is called a shave biopsy.

  • If you have a lesion on your skin that is fluid-filled and not solid, this can be evaluated with aspiration. Your doctor can put a small needle attached to a syringe into this lesion and suction out the fluid.

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