Skin Biopsy 101: What To Expect


If you’ve gotten your annual physical exam with your primary care physician recently, he or she may have suggested you see a dermatologist if you have any spots on your skin that should be checked out. More than likely, your dermatologist will want to do a skin biopsy on any areas that appear distorted or irregular. The word “biopsy” can have negative connotation, but in actuality, it’s a virtually painless and easy procedure that your dermatologist will use to diagnose or rule out any skin conditions.

Let’s take a look at what to expect during a skin biopsy.

Why is a skin biopsy used?

Skin biopsies are generally used to diagnose or rule out any skin conditions such as infections, skin cancers, inflammatory skin conditions and more.

How does a skin biopsy work?  

Your dermatologist will use a local numbing anesthetic on the biopsy area, usually through an injection into the site. There will likely be a slight burning sensation in the area where the anesthetic was received, but it should subside after a few moments.

There are three main biopsy types your doctor may choose from, depending on the goal:

·       Shave biopsy: uses a razor-like tool to remove a small section of the top layers of the skin.

·       Punch Biopsy: uses a circular tool to remover a small section of the skin to include deeper layers.

·       Excisional biopsy: uses a small scalpel to remove an entire lump or area of abnormal skin, often down to the fatty layer of skin.

How long does a skin biopsy take?

Usually a skin biopsy takes about 15 minutes total, including the numbing portion of the procedure. Afterwards, your doctor will give you instructions for caring for your incision at home.

After the Biopsy

The wound should only take a week to two weeks to heal, especially if you’ve taken care to adhere to your doctor’s instructions for caring for the wound. All biopsies result in a small scar, but the prominence and look of the scar depends on the person and their propensity for things like raised, keloid type scarring.

Finding a Dermatologist

When it comes to getting a skin biopsy, picking the right dermatologist is crucial. The experienced dermatologists at Academic Alliance in Dermatology have been doing skin biopsies for over 30 years and we offer them at all 18 locations. If you need a dermatologist in Tampa experienced in skin biopsies, call us today!