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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 skin tumors, other types of growths, infections, or other 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/30/2015
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