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Finding out your doctor has ordered a skin biopsy of any kind can be stressful, and it’s particularly worrying when you’re not sure what the process entails or how it’s performed. Skin lesions can be a sign of health conditions as serious as skin cancer or as minor as a skin tag, so it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as you notice one. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a shave or punch biopsy to determine their cause.

Shave biopsy and punch biopsy are two different methods of achieving the same goal: removing enough cells from a specific area of your skin to diagnose potential health conditions.

What Does a Shave Skin Biopsy Entail?

A simple and relatively painless in-office procedure, a shave skin biopsy requires only a local anesthetic, like lidocaine, administered with a very fine needle. You may feel a bit of tingling at the injection site but will not experience any pain during the biopsy procedure.

If your doctor suspects your condition primarily affects the top layer of your skin, he or she will likely perform a shave biopsy. An instrument similar to a razor will remove a small section of the epidermis (the first layer of skin), and a superficial portion of the dermis (the second layer). You will not require stitches to close the skin after a shave biopsy, and the site should heal within two to three weeks.

What to Expect from a Punch Biopsy

If your healthcare provider has concerns about conditions affecting the deeper dermis layer, he or she may perform a punch skin biopsy.

As with a shave biopsy, your skin will first be cleaned and marked before a local anesthetic is administered. Instead of a using a razor-like instrument to remove a superficial layer of skin, your healthcare provider will use a circular tool similar to a round cookie cutter. This will cut into the skin with a gentle turning motion, excising tissue into the deeper layers for better analysis. Depending upon the depth of the biopsy, one or two sutures may be required to close the site for optimal healing.

At Family Diagnostic Clinic, we understand how scary a skin biopsy of any kind can be. Our experienced and knowledgeable doctors, nurse practitioners and clinical staff can guide you through the process of diagnosing and treating any skin concerns you may have. Don’t put of having a suspicious mole, rash or lesion examined; call today to schedule an appointment.

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