Skin Biopsies

Serving Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby and surrounding areas

Shave Biopsy :

  • Shave biopsies are usually done to test suspicious moles or other superficial skin lesions.
  • Sometimes shave biopsies are done to confirm a diagnosis, before a referral for further treatment of a skin cancer.
  • The photo above shows the appearance of a shave biopsy under a microscope.

Preparation:

  • You may eat normally prior to the procedure.
  • Continue to take your usual medications, as prescribed by your doctor.
  • You will be able to drive home or use public transportation after the procedure.

Procedure

  • The skin adjacent to a lesion is injected with a local anesthetic to numb the area.
  • The lesion is removed, and the base treated with a medication or electrocautery to stop any bleeding.
  • Stitches are usually not necessary.
  • The removal is not painful.
  • After the procedure you may bathe normally.
  • For 2 weeks after the procedure, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment, and change the bandage daily.
  • Redness, pain, swelling or a discharge from the wound may be a sign of infection.  The doctor should be informed immediately.
  • After a shave biopsy a crust or scab will form. This will heal and leave a pink mark that will gradually fade.
  • After the removal, there may be a residual white mark.
  • There is a small chance that the lesion could grow back.
  • The removal of a suspicious lesion, based on the recommendation of your dermatologist is covered by government health insurance (OHIP).
  • A referral from a doctor is necessary to make your first appointment.

Punch Biopsy

  • A punch biopsy is usually performed to take a sample of skin to help in the diagnosis of a rash.
  • Sometimes skin lesions such as atypical moles are tested with a punch biopsy also.

Preparation:

  • You may eat normally prior to the procedure.
  • Continue to take your usual medications, as prescribed by your doctor.
  • You will be able to drive home or use public transportation after the procedure.

Punch Biopsy Procedure :

  • The skin in the area to be tested is injected with a local anesthetic to numb the area.
  • The injection stings for a few seconds. After this, there is no pain or discomfort.
  • An instrument called a “punch” tool is used to remove a small circle of skin measuring 2 mm to 6 mm in diameter.
  • The size of the specimen is determined by the location of the biopsy and the suspected diagnosis of your rash or skin lesions.
  • As the area is numb from the anesthetic, this process is not painful.
  • One to three stitches are used to close the opening.
  • Antibiotic and a bandage are used to cover the wound.
  • The day after surgery, the bandage should be removed and a small amount of antibiotic ointment should be be applied.  This should occur twice daily until the stitches are removed.
  • Redness, pain, swelling or a discharge from the wound may be a sign of infection.  The doctor should be informed immediately.
  • The stitches are removed in 5 to 10 days.
  • The removal of stitches is painless.
  • You may bathe, shower and do your normal activities unless the lesion that has been removed is very large and there is a risk of the wound being damaged. The doctor will inform you about this.
  • The cost of a punch biopsy, done for diagnostic purposes, on the recommendation of your dermatologist, is covered by the government insurance plan (OHIP).
  • A referral from a doctor is necessary to make your first appointment.