Skin Biopsy


Skin biopsy: All or part of the abnormal-looking growth is cut from the skin and viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.


  • All suspected neoplastic lesions
  • All bullous disorders
  • To clarify a diagnosis when a limited number of entities are under consideration

Biopsy techniques

Shave biopsy — Shave biopsies can be either superficial or deep. Superficial shave biopsies are done across or nearly parallel to the skin surface and extend into the epidermis only or epidermis and limited superficial dermis.

Punch biopsy — Punch biopsies are relatively simple and the specimen is a cone shaped core of tissue with its widest diameter at the skin surface and narrowest at the biopsy base.

Excision — The direction of the skin tension lines should be determined after performing a field block in preparation for an excision. Align the long axis of the excision parallel to the skin tension lines. Using a surgical marking pen, draw an ellipse around the lesion to be excised, including a 2 to 5 mm margin of normal skin around the lesion.

Wound care after biopsy 

Once the procedure is completed, a dressing will be applied to the area. Please keep this in place for 24 hours and keep the area dry. It is normal to have mild redness and swelling at the biopsy site. 

Care instructions:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before changing your dressing. 
  • Remove the old dressing, and clean the biopsy site with saline water, do not scrub. 
  • You may use a Q-tip to remove any crusting or old ointment. 
  • Pat dry with gauze or tissue.  
  • Cover the site with antibiotic ointment. 
  • Cover the site with an adhesive bandage or a non-stick pad and tape. 
  • Please avoid baths, hot tubs, or swimming for 7 days following your biopsy. 
  • Once the skin is healed, make sure to practice good sun protection with sunscreen to reduce the risk of scarring and discoloration.

Occasionally the biopsy site will bleed after you leave the clinic. If this occurs, apply direct pressure to the wound for 10-20 minutes.

If you have sutures (stitches) in your biopsy site: 

  • If the suture(s) are on the face, scalp, or neck, they should be removed in about 7 days. 
  • If the suture(s) are on your body, they should be removed in about 14 days.

Call the office if: 

  • You have bleeding at the biopsy site that does not stop with firm pressure for 15 minutes.
  • You develop signs of infection such as significant redness, pain, swelling, and/or yellow drainage or discharge that will not go away.

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