A skin lesion biopsy is when a small amount of skin is removed so it can be examined. The skin is tested to look for skin conditions or diseases. A skin biopsy can help your health care provider diagnose or rule out problems such as skin cancer or psoriasis.
How the Test is Performed
There are several ways to do a skin biopsy. Most procedures can be done in your provider's office or an outpatient medical office. It will take about 15 minutes.
Which procedure you have depends on the location, size, and type of lesion. A lesion is an abnormal area of the skin. This can be a lump, sore, or an area of skin color that is not normal.
Before a biopsy, your provider will numb the area of skin so you don't feel anything. The different types of skin biopsies are described below.
- Your provider uses a small blade or razor to remove or scrape the outermost layers of skin.
- Your provider will remove all or part of the lesion.
- You will not need stitches. This procedure will leave a small indented area.
- This type of biopsy is often done when a skin cancer is suspected.
- Your provider uses a skin punch tool to remove deeper layers of skin.
- The area removed is about the shape and size of a pencil eraser.
- It includes all or part of the lesion. You may have stitches to close the area.
- This type of biopsy is often done to diagnose rashes.
- A surgeon uses a surgical knife (scalpel) to remove the entire lesion. This may include deep layers of skin and fat.
- The area is closed with stitches to place the skin back together.
- If a large area is biopsied, the surgeon may use a skin graft or flap to replace the skin that was removed.
- This type of biopsy is done when a kind of skin cancer called melanoma is suspected.
- This procedure takes a piece of a large lesion.
- A piece of the growth is cut and sent to the lab for examination. You may have stitches, if needed.
- After diagnosis, the rest of the growth can be treated.
- This procedure allows skin cancer to be removed with less damage to the healthy skin around it.
- It is most often done to remove skin lesions on the eyelids, nose, ears, lips, or hands.