Why and how Skin biopsy is done- know from a Dermato-pathologist

Written By Dr Surbhi, MD Skin

Last updated: 03/10/18

“Doctor, why are you asking me to get a skin biopsy done? Is it something serious? Is the procedure painful?”

Yes! The word “skin biopsy” raises a lot of anxiety in patients and all they can think of is skin cancer. Today we have Dr Achyut Pokharel, a Dermatologist, who has specialized in Dermatopathology from the USA, to burst myths about skin biopsy and educate you on warning signals, when a skin biopsy becomes essential.

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Dermatocare: What is a skin Biopsy? 

Dr Achyut: Skin biopsy is the process of taking a part of your skin lesion to look at the lesion on a cellular level.

Dermatocare: Most people associate skin biopsy with skin cancer, what percentage of skin biopsy ordered show cancer?  

Dr Achyut: Very few skin biopsies are ordered to rule out skin cancers, most of the time the reason to perform the skin biopsy is to establish the diagnosis of non-malignant skin lesions. However, if there is high clinical suspicion of skin cancer, most of the biopsy shows cancer. It is important to remember that skin cancer is more common in the white population than darker ones.

Dermatocare: What are common indications in dermatology for which skin biopsy is done?  

Dr Achyut: To establish the diagnosis of skin lesions, if there is any skin cancer, infection or allergy and also to evaluate the response to therapy.

Dermatocare: How is skin biopsy performed? Is it painful procedure? Will there be scar marks left after healing?

Dr Achyut: The skin biopsy is performed with the following steps; the biopsy site is cleaned with an antiseptic solution, and an injection is given to make the area numb, and a small part of the lesion is removed. The wound is either left to heal by itself or sutured. The injection given to make the area numb may have mild pain but after the area is numb it is an painless procedure. A skin biopsy may cause a minimal scar for some time, which will go away eventually.

Dermatocare: What are the warning signs of a skin lesion or a mole, which warrants the need for a skin biopsy to rule out skin cancer?

Dr Achyut: Any mole that bleeds, causes changes in colour, itches and grows haphazardly needs the skin biopsy to rule out skin cancer. Any skin lesion that does not heal despite medication is another indication for biopsy.

Dermatocare: What is the risk of skin biopsy?

Dr Achyut: Biopsy may lead to infection, persistent bleeding or may leave some scars, which are all minor; with our expertise they are minimal of any complications and are cured easily if it happens.

We are thankful to Dr Achyut for educating our users on skin biopsy; we hope the word skin biopsy would no more lead to an Adrenaline rush.


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