Biopsy Information for Patients
What is a biopsy?
A biopsy removes a sample of cells from the surface of your skin. This sample can be examined in many ways to provide more information about your medical condition.
There are three main types of biopsies:
A doctor uses a sharp blade to remove a small section of the two top layers of skin (epidermis and superficial dermis).
A doctor uses a circular tool to use a small section of skin that can include the epidermis, dermis, and superficial fat.
A doctor uses a scalpel to remove an entire section of skin down to the fat, including some of the normal appearing surrounding skin.
A BIOPSY IS USUALLY USED AS A DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURE, AND MAY NOT RESULT IN THE COMPLETE REMOVAL OF THE LESION OR FUNCTION AS A TREATMENT
What are the risks of a skin biopsy?
Skin biopsies are generally a safe procedure, but complications can occur including:
- Bleeding, bruising, infection
- A scar will result from any procedure that removes a sample of skin – the type of scar that forms depends on the type of biopsy and the way an individual’s skin heals
- Biopsies on the neck or upper torso may result in more prominent, raised scars
- The scar’s permanent appearance may not be evident until 1-2 years after your biopsy
- Most areas will begin to heal within 2 weeks – BIOPSIES ON THE LOWER LEGS AND FEET MAY TAKE LONGER TO HEAL
- THE SAMPLE OBTAINED IN A BIOPSY MAY NOT ALWAYS ALLOW FOR A DIAGNOSIS TO BE MADE, AND MAY RESULT IN THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL BIOPSY/BIOPSIES TO OBTAIN A DIAGNOSIS