A skin biopsy is also highly valuable in many other skin conditions (and hair and scalp disorders) that can present in similar fashion or have similar skin manifestations, to help establish an accurate diagnosis to guide effective treatment. It is also a procedure that should be considered when treatment of the original suspected skin condition is not responding to treatment.
*** How is a skin biopsy performed?
A skin biopsy, in almost every case, is an office-based procedure, and is done under local anesthesia (an injection into the biopsy skin site is made to numb the area of skin to biopsied). There are a few different types of skin biopsies.
- A Punch biopsy is very common and easy to perform. A 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, or rarely larger, circular piece of skin tissue is removed using a circular “punch” blade. Often a single suture (stitch) is placed to close the little hole made from the removed skin, but at such small sizes the defect can easily heal up even without suture/stitch placed.
- An Excisonal Skin Biopsy is performed when the complete visible lesion is targeted for removal and analysis by Pathologists. An example is that a suspected Skin Cancer on the back may be removed with a margin of surrounding apparently normal tissue. If the biopsy proves the lesion was a skin cancer, in many cases because a good piece of surrounding normal tissue was removed as well, this often may be enough and represent curative treatment, such that the excisional biopsy was both diagnostic and as a treatment curative.
Your doctor will discuss any such procedure in the context of any particular skin lesion or condition and give specifics (advantages, possible adverse side effects) that apply to your case if such a skin biopsy is recommended and your consent is obtained