A skin biopsy is a superficial removal of a piece of skin that allows for microscopic examination, essential in the establishment of certain diagnoses. This service is performed at the discretion of the dermatologist. The service involves numbing of the selected skin by local infusion of an anesthetic agent with a small needle. After anesthesia is achieved, a small portion of skin is removed. The wound is left open to heal or repaired with small stitches depending of the type of skin biopsy performed. The removed tissue is then sent to a skin-specific laboratory for evaluation by dermatopathologists. Wound care is minor with application of a topical ointment and a Band-Aid daily. In most cases, the biopsy site is allowed to get wet the next day. The risk of infection with this service is very low.
A skin biopsy may be performed for several reasons. Most commonly, a skin biopsy is used to evaluate a suspicious growth under the microscope to determine the presence or absence of atypical cells or the presence of a skin cancer. Skin biopsies also may be useful in the diagnosis of infectious conditions or of inflammatory rashes.