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(Skin Lesion Biopsy; Shave Biopsy; Punch Biopsy; Excision Biopsy)
- Shave biopsy—outer part of affected area is removed
- Punch biopsy—a small cylinder of skin is removed using a punch tool
- Excisional biopsy—an entire area of abnormal skin is removed
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Reasons for Procedure
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- Cancer or benign skin growths
- Inflammatory skin disorders, such as psoriasis
- Make sure a tumor was completely removed—by testing remaining skin
- Monitor the effect of a treatment
- Poor wound healing
- Nerve damage
- Bleeding disorders
- Circulatory problems
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Description of the Procedure
- Shave biopsy—A thin slice of the skin will be removed. It is done with a special razor that "shaves" off a piece of skin.
- Punch biopsy—A special tool is used. The tip of the tool is pushed into your skin. As it is pushed down, the tool will be rotated into the skin. A circular sample of skin will then be cut free. This biopsy provides a sample from all of the layers of the skin. Stitches may be needed to close the hole.
- Excision biopsy—The entire area of abnormal skin will be removed with a scalpel. This biopsy will make a larger and deeper hole in the skin. Stitches will be placed to close the hole left in the skin.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Any new symptoms
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery http://www.asds.net
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca
Cancer Care Ontario http://www.cancercare.on.ca
Pickett H. Shave and punch biopsy for skin lesions. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(9):995-1002.
Skin biopsy. Nemours Kidshealth website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your%5Fbody/skin%5Fstuff/skin%5Fbiopsy.html. Updated July 2012. Accessed March 28, 2013.
Skin biopsy. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/procedures/biopsy.html. Updated April 14, 2012. Accessed March 28, 2012.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2013
- Update Date: 06/24/2013