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Excisions & Biopsies

A biopsy is a technique to render a tissue sample that can be examined under a microscope by our Dermatopathologist. Generally, a biopsy is done under local anesthetic so there is little discomfort.

There are three main types of skin biopsies: shave biopsy, punch biopsy and excisional biopsy. The method your provider choose is dependent on the suspected diagnosis of the skin lesion. If a biopsy results in concern, you will be contacted immediately to discuss the next steps. Your provider may recommend additional excisions or Mohs surgery.

There are three main types of skin biopsies: shave biopsy, punch biopsy and excisional biopsy.

A shave biopsy is normally done with either a small scalpel blade or a curved razor blade. Only a small fragment of the protruding tumor or lesion will be removed, leaving the skin relatively flat after the procedure.

A punch biopsy is done with a circular blade attached to a pencil-like handle. The blade is rotated down through the epidermis and dermis and into the subcutaneous fat, producing a cylindrical core of tissue.

An excisional biopsy removes the entire lesion or tumor. This is the ideal method of diagnosis of small melanomas. Ideally, an entire melanoma should be submitted for diagnosis if it can be done safely and with good cosmetic results. Some providers prefer the punch method for initial diagnosis before performing an excisional biopsy.