What do Skin Biopsies entail?

Skin biopsies are a way for dermatologists to take a sample of skin and look at it under a microscope to help determine if something is benign/not dangerous or needs further treatment.

There are two different type of skin biopsies that can be performed: a shave biopsy and punch biopsy.  A shave biopsy, like the name suggests, uses a scalpel to shave the superficial layer of the skin to be analyzed.  It heals in the same as if you were to scrape your skin.  A punch biopsy involves using a cookie cutter-like instrument to "punch" out the sample of skin.  This gives depth to the sample of skin, allowing us to see under the microscope not only the surface of the skin, but also what is going on underneath.  With this procedure, the skin needs to be brought back together using stitches, leaving a fine line when it is all healed and the stitches are taken out.

Once the samples are processed and put on slides, they can examined under a microscope to determine their diagnosis and whether or not it needs further treatment, such as an excision or Mohs microscopic surgery.


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