A skin biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of skin tissue is removed so that it can be sent to a pathologist for a laboratory examination. The tissue sample is usually examined under a microscope or other advanced tests may be performed to evaluate it. Sample collection is generally performed under local anesthetic in a doctor’s office, and the results can be available within 4-10 days. Based on the skin biopsy report, the doctor can determine a more accurate diagnosis.
What is a Skin Biopsy?
Skin biopsies are most often performed to diagnose any abnormalities in your skin, which your doctor may suspect when an abnormal area of skin changes size, shape, color, or appearance, or is taking too much time to heal after an injury. Early diagnosis of a suspicious skin lesion along with the biopsy can help detect skin conditions so the treatment can begin immediately.
There are different techniques for performing a skin biopsy and collecting a skin sample, depending on the location and size of the skin lesion. The skin sample is then placed in a sterile container (if your doctor suspects infection) or a solution (like formaldehyde). In each of these procedures, the tissue is collected and then inspected under a microscope.
If you have noticed a skin lesion or an abnormal growth on any part of your body, it’s important to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will put you under local anesthetic and then remove and examine the tissue sample from the lesion.
Signs and Symptoms that You Need Skin Biopsy
A skin biopsy is performed to diagnose a:
- Fungal or bacterial skin infection
- Actinic keratosis
- Skin cancer (melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma)
- Psoriasis, dermatitis, and other inflammatory skin conditions
- Blistering skin disorders such as bullous pemphigoid
- Skin tags
- Suspicious moles
- And other abnormal skin growths or conditions
How Does Skin Biopsy Works?
Depending on the location and type of the growth, one of the following biopsy methods is used to collect and examine the tissue sample:
Punch biopsy: This technique is mostly used to sample growths that may impact several layers of the skin. The doctor will use a tube with a cylindrical blade attached to it, to punch through the lesion and take a tissue sample. The wound will be sutured.
Incisional biopsy: This skin biopsy method is used when the doctor needs to take a larger sample of the lesion. They will use a scalpel to cut away a sample, and sutures will be applied to seal the wound.
Shave biopsy: This is used to evaluate a growth that affects specifically the outermost skin layers. The doctor will use a razor blade device or a scalpel to slice off a thin layer of the skin lesion. Then the wound will be bandaged, and as it heals, it will form a scab.
Once the skin biopsy procedure has been completed, your doctor will send the sample to a lab for examination. The results may take several days or a couple of weeks depending on the skin condition, type of lab procedures, and biopsy.
Once the results are available, your doctor may schedule an office appointment to discuss it. We always recommend bringing along a family member or close friend if possible because it can be difficult to take in all the information provided by the doctor.
Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions during the appointment. In fact, we encourage you to ask questions such as:
- What are my next steps based on the results?
- Are there any factors that may have impacted the skin biopsy results?
- If the test showed skin cancer, will I need additional treatment or was all of the cancer removed?
- Do I need to follow up; if yes, what kind of follow-up?
- Will I need another biopsy test?
Get Same-Day Skin Biopsy Done at UrgentMED
At UrgentMED, most skin biopsy procedures can be done within 10-15 minutes by our doctors right in the clinic. You don’t need to make an appointment or go to an outpatient medical office; you can be in and out in a span of minutes.
Before the biopsy, your UrgentMED doctor will numb the area so you don’t feel any pain or discomfort. Our licensed physicians and dermatologists perform several biopsies every day so you’ll be in good hands.
If you have an abnormal growth on your skin, and you’re not sure if it’s a wart or lesion or something else, or you’ve tried home remedies with no success, pay us a visit. Just walk-in to one of our clinics and we’ll take care of you. Give us a call at (310) 202-1300 to know more.