Bucay Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics performs skin lesion biopsies to identify suspicious lesions. A biopsy is a diagnostic test that involves removing a tissue sample and examining it under a microscope to reveal whether the cells are abnormal or not.
Reasons for Skin Lesion Biopsies
Skin lesion biopsies are necessary when simple visual examination by Dr. Bucay is insufficient to make a clearcut diagnosis. Such biopsies are done in order to make a definitive diagnosis of:
- Skin infections which may be fungal, bacterial or viral
- Skin growths like moles, warts, or seborrheic keratosis
- Precancerous lesions like actinic keratosis
- Dermatitis, such as eczema or psoriasis
- Skin cancers, including basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma
Types of Skin Lesion Biopsies
There are a number of different types of skin lesion biopsies, all of which are usually performed in Dr. Bucay’s office. The method chosen will depend upon the lesion’s appearance as well as its location and size. An anesthetic will be applied to the skin regardless of which technique is used, and for some types of biopsy, stitches, or even skin grafts, may be required to restore the area. Most skin biopsy procedures take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
Shave – A shave biopsy is the least invasive method. It involves a simple shaving, with a razor or scalpel, of cells from the upper layers of the skin, the epidermis and part of the dermis.
Punch – A punch biopsy is a procedure for assessing growths or sores that penetrate more deeply into the skin. A rotational cutting device is used to remove a small cylindrical section of cells from the epidermis, the dermis and uppermost layer of fatty tissue.
Incisional – During an incisional biopsy, a portion of the suspicious lesion is removed for examination. If a malignancy is diagnosed, a follow-up procedure will be necessary for a complete excision.
Excisional – An excisional biopsy surgically removes the entire lesion, including all three skin layers. In fact, if the affected area is of a considerable size, a skin flap or graft from another part of the body may be needed to cover the excision and replace the missing skin.
Skin Lesion Biopsy procedure
Before undergoing a skin biopsy, Dr. Bucay must be notified of an existing bleeding disorder, if you are taking any blood-thinning medication, or if you have an autoimmune disorder or underlying skin condition. Since a local anesthetic will be administered prior to the biopsy, the procedure will not be painful.
Following the biopsy, the tissue sample is stored to later be processed at a laboratory. After being thoroughly examined under a microscope, a diagnosis will made to determine what the course of follow-up treatment, if any, should be.
When will I receive the results of my Biopsy?
Results may take anywhere from several days to 2 weeks to receive, depending on the type of biopsy that has been performed and on the types of testing required. Depending on what the laboratory results show, medication may be prescribed or further excision may be necessary. In the case of serious malignancy, radiation or chemotherapy may be required. In many cases, where the biopsy shows no abnormality, there will be no further treatment necessary.
Is a Skin Lesion Biopsy safe?
Skin lesion biopsies are extremely safe procedures as evidenced by the fact that they are usually performed outpatient in Dr. Bucay’s office and are completed in just a few minutes. In rare cases, skin biopsies may result in excessive bleeding, bruising, scarring, infection or allergic reactions. The vast majority of skin lesion biopsies, however, do not lead to any aftereffects.
Dr. Vivian Bucay and her staff will prepare you for what to expect with your biopsy and its results when they come in. This is an outpatient procedure so you will be free to go about your day when your procedure is completed.