A skin biopsy test is a procedure that involves cutting a small sample of skin to diagnose illnesses such as infection, cancer, or skin disorders. A doctor will provide numbing medicine to a patient before starting the surgery to block the pain awareness.  

Then the practitioner takes the tissue to the lab for analysis, which he examines under the microscope.  

Various Techniques of Skin Biopsy

While there are various types of skin biopsy, the one the doctor uses will depend on your tumor’s location. The different methods used may leave a scar. So, it is crucial to talk to your doctor regarding the possible scarring you’re likely to get.

Shave biopsy

The surgeon shaves the portion around the lesion and above the surrounding skin for this type of procedure. He uses a sharp device or blade to remove the tissue from the skin surface. 

Excisional biopsy

In an excisional skin biopsy test, the doctor removes the entire area that looks suspicious. Most practitioners usually use it for a small, removable lump under the skin. However, fine-needle aspiration is the most common procedure to remove an invisible node or the type you can’t feel through the skin.

Incisional biopsy

The surgeon removes a small lesion sample using a scalpel and takes it for evaluation. It’s a technique used when a doctor suspects an inflammatory dermatosis.

Punch biopsy

A doctor uses a sharp circular device to insert into the skin. And he takes the sample from the skin surface for testing. It’s the most widely used technique for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Punch biopsy works for any solid lesion or small vesicle that a punch device can contain. 

Fine needle aspiration biopsy

It is one of the minimally invasive biopsies. A practitioner uses a thin needle attached to a syringe. Then he collects a small tissue from the suspicious area and takes it for testing. 

Vacuum-assisted biopsy

It’s a skin biopsy test that uses a suction device. It collects a tissue sample using a specially designed needle. The vacuum can pick multiple pieces from one biopsy site using the image guidance.  

Bone marrow aspiration & biopsy

These procedures are similar, and doctors usually perform them simultaneously to examine the bone marrow. Since the bone marrow has a solid and a liquid part, these procedures work for both. So, the bone marrow aspiration involves taking a fluid sample using a needle. And a bone marrow biopsy takes a small amount of solid tissue through a syringe.

These two procedures are ideal for checking if a person has a blood cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma) or blood disorder. 

After Biopsy Procedure

The type of skin biopsy test dictates your recovery period. For instance, a biopsy test that’s least invasive requires no recovery time. At the same time, an invasive procedure will require a longer recovery time. Also, remember to take a cab or have someone drive you home if your doctor sedates you as part of the anesthesia. 

What to Expect After Biopsy Skin Test

After a biopsy, you should talk to your doctor about the biopsy healing process. Learn how you’ll take care of the wound. If you got the stitches, ensure to keep them clean and moist. Your doctor may remove the stitches after a week or so. If he used sterile adhesive strips to close the wound, you’d have to keep the area dry, and eventually, these will gradually fall off. But if they don’t, then your doctor will remove them. Please don’t try to remove them yourself. 

Wound Cleaning

You can remove the damage after 24 hours and start your daily wound care using the below guide:

  • Use warm soapy water (a gentle soap) with a gauze pad.
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Dry wound
  • Apply some vaseline petroleum jelly 
  • Cover the wound with a band-aid.
  • In the next 7-10 days, you need to clean the wound and replace the dressing daily until the wound heals. 
  • Your wound should not interfere with your regular shower. However, it would help to observe the above biopsy healing process guide. 
  • Wait for your wound to heal before you go swimming or sauna. 
  • Always cover your wound to prevent any contamination and avoid scab formation. And leaving it open may impair the healing.  

Side Effects

What are potential complications you may experience after a skin biopsy test? Soreness is one of the typical adverse reactions occurring near the biopsied site. If this remains for a few days, you can take a pain reliever such as Tylenol.  

Other common symptoms include:

  • Severe pain
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Bleeding

If your bleeding continues despite applying pressure on the area, it’s time to see your doctor. The best way to prevent the bleeding is to check and avoid any underlying vessels in the biopsy area.

 Also, if you have any signs of infection, such as red streaks, redness, tenderness and pus, don’t hesitate to see your healthcare provider. 

How Long Does it Take for Your Skin Biopsy Test Results?

Biopsy results may take time depending on the number of tests needed to make a diagnosis. A simple skin biopsy test result often takes 2-3 days, while a complicated one may take 7-10 days. And based on the result analysis, a pathologist can then determine if the tissue contains a tumor or not. It might be benign or malignant.  A benign tumor is nothing to worry about as this is not cancerous. A malignant tumor is something that should raise concern as this is cancerous. That means it can spread to other parts of the body.

In Conclusion

Skin biopsy test results can help determine the cause of a suspicious skin rash or irritation. It can also confirm or rule out if a patient has skin cancer or not. Then your provider can decide the next treatment step depending on those results. It’s a quick and safe diagnostic procedure performed by either a surgeon or a dermatologist oncologist in an office. 

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