Taking A Biopsy
A "biopsy" procedure uses local anaesthetic to numb the skin so a small sample can be taken. The sample is sent to Southern Community Laboratories where a diagnosis (histology) is made. This allows us to plan if further action is needed or avoid unnecessary surgery and expense. It can also reveal an unexpected result.
A biopsy can be a "punch", which is shaped like an O or an ellipse, which is shaped like ( ). They can range from a few to several millimetres, if needed. They usually require stitches (sutures) to close but sometimes steristrips (butterfly stitches) can be used.
Looking After Your Skin Surgery Wound – Biopsy (pdf)
A shave biopsy or shave excision is similar to curettage (see below), and goes a bit deeper into the second layer of skin (the dermis). It is commonly used when we want to remove the lesion in one piece to send to the laboratory for diagnosis. Sometimes, a "shave" is used for treatment, avoiding the need for sutures.
When a skin lesion is sitting on the top layer of the skin (epidermis), then curettage can be used. Using local anaesthetic to numb the skin, we then use a fine instrument to gently remove the lesion with a scraping technique. This allows us to remove the thinnest layer needed down to a healthy base and edges (margins). The exposed skin looks like a graze and should be cared for like a graze. The tissue that is removed is sent to the laboratory to confirm diagnosis.
Surgical Removal Of A Lesion/Mole
When a lesion needs to be removed, we will discuss the procedure in detail with you. Local anaesthetic is used with a sterile technique and instruments for this procedure. The size of the excision (skin removed) will depend on the size of the lesion, type of lesion and position on your body. Dissolving sub-cutaneous/buried sutures are used under the top skin layer for support with top (non-dissolving) sutures that will need to be removed several days later on the outside of the skin. The dressing will need to remain in place for two days. In most cases, there is little or no pain afterwards.
Having Skin Surgery (pdf)
What to Expect After Having Skin Surgery (pdf)
Looking After Your Skin Surgery Wound – Removal of Lesion (pdf)