Skin Biopsy

What is a Skin Biopsy?

In a biopsy, Dr. Tomi takes a sample of a lump, a sore, or tissue from a person's body.

Dr. Tomi removes a tiny piece or all of the area that's affected. This tissue is then treated with a special chemical to preserve the sample and then sent to a pathology lab, where a pathologist will examine it under a microscope to determine what it is. Once that is known Dr. Tomi can provide the right treatment for you.

Dr. Tomi may order a skin biopsy to help diagnose or monitor possible health problems like these:

  • Skin rashes or conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis.
  • Skin infections.
  • Skin cancer
  • Other medical problems that may affect the skin, such as a metabolic disorder (where there's too much or too little of a hormone or other body chemical in a person's system).

Preparation

There is no special preparation for a skin biopsy.

Different procedures

A skin biopsy can be done several ways, including the shave method, the punch method, and as an incisional biopsy.

Shave Biopsy

The shave method of skin biopsy is similar to shaving hair from your body. The skin has many layers and the doctor will shave the very top, which will heal itself in no time. It's a quick procedure.

First, Dr. Tomi numbs the skin by injecting a local anesthetic. He then shaves off the top layer of skin with a surgical knife. He may shave off the entire problem area or just a small sample.

Afterwards, Dr. Tomi will apply pressure to the area with a cotton ball or gauze to stop any bleeding. Then it's cleaned, bandaged, and you're sent on your way with instructions to keep the area clean and safe.

Punch Biopsy

A punch biopsy takes a sample of the affected skin area to make a diagnosis. Because the piece of skin that's removed is very small, healing is quick.

A skin punch biopsy starts with Dr. Tomi injecting local anesthetic to numb the area. The punch itself is like a mini cookie cutter that is pressed into the skin and turns. It makes a little circle in the top layer of skin that is then lifted up and snipped off.

Pressure is applied using a cotton ball or gauze to stop any bleeding (there's not a lot of bleeding after this procedure) and the area is usually closed with one or two stitches. After that, the area is cleaned and bandaged to keep it safe from germs.

Incisional Biopsy

With this type of biopsy, Dr. Tomi cuts into the affected area of skin and removes a sample of tissue. You'll get an injection to numb the area first. Afterwards, the doctor will sew up the cut or tape it closed with small strips of clear, sticky tape.

If you get stitches, they will be removed in a week or so. If the cut is closed with tape, try to keep it on as long as possible. Covering the tape with a bandage can help.

Schedule a follow-up appointment to check on how your cut is healing and remove the tape then. But don't worry if it falls off on its own after a few days.

After any type of biopsy, the skin will be tender. So follow the doctor's instructions for caring for the area while it heals.

Safety

A biopsy is a safe procedure. There's a slight risk of infection or bleeding. Let your doctor know if the area doesn't seem to be healing, becomes red, or feels sore.

Results

You should have the results of the biopsy in approximately 6 weeks. Having a biopsy means getting some answers and the care you need, whatever the problem.

Lots of people who hear the word "biopsy" think "cancer." But getting a biopsy doesn't always mean that your doctor thinks you might have cancer. If you need a biopsy because of a tumor, lump, or mass, don't panic. Often, a lump or bump is benign, which means it's not cancerous.

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