This procedure involves taking a sample of a skin tissue then processing it and examining it under a microscope. There are various ways in order to get a hold of a skin sample. This procedure would depend on the size and location of the area involved or what we call a skin lesion. The skin sample obtained will be placed in a solution, for instance formaldehyde, and then the tissue is processed and examined under a microscope. If infection is suspected, the skin sample would then be placed in a sterile container.
When an area of the skin is suspected of any abnormality or when there have been changes in the color, shape, size, or appearance of an area of the skin and has not healed after an injury, skin biopsies are done. These are often used in diagnosing skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer. Identification of skin cancers can be achieved through early diagnosis of a suspicious skin lesion and through a skin biopsy, thus leading to an early treatment.
A skin biopsy is used to diagnose skin conditions, especially if it is not clear as to what the condition is, such as psoriasis. Diseases, such as skin cancers also make use of a skin biopsy. It is also done to diagnose bacterial or fungal skin infection.
After undergoing skin biopsy, a dressing will be applied over the biopsy site and an antibiotic ointment if no stitches were used. It is advisable to clean the area, re-apply the ointment, and change the dressing once or several times a day until healing of the area biopsied is achieved. Healing usually takes 5 to 28 days depending on the size and location of the biopsy. It is important that you do not let the biopsied area dry out as formation of a scab will result in delayed healing.
On the other hand, a dressing is usually left in place or occasionally changed once the stitches are removed which is usually 5 to 10 days after doing the biopsy, again, depending on the size and location of the incision. At this time, the area should remain dry. If there is any bleeding, swelling, or abnormal redness or pain, it should be reported right away. Activities such as exercising or heavy lifting are also not advisable for several weeks.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting a skin biopsy?
A skin biopsy can be a very informative procedure since it can provide both a diagnosis and treatment for a certain condition. The disadvantages, on the other hand, are that this procedure is invasive and most of the time follow-up care is necessary.
What are the risks associated with a skin biopsy?
Some of the risks are infection and persistent bleeding although this is unlikely to occur. Scar formation at the biopsy site may also occur if you are prone to form scars after a skin injury or surgery.
What affects the skin biopsy procedure?
Some medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications, antifungal medications, and corticosteroid skin creams, can get in the way of the biopsy or interfere with the accuracy of the results.
How would I feel after undergoing a skin biopsy?
Several days after a skin biopsy, the biopsy site may feel sore and may bleed slightly. Make sure that you inquire from your doctor on how bleeding or other drainage is anticipated. It is very important that you contact you doctor right away if you experience the following:
- Too much bleeding or drainage through the bandage. When this happens, pressure must be applied to the biopsy site and call your doctor right away.
- The biopsy site shows increased redness or swelling and increased tenderness and pain is felt.
- Presence of a fever.