The Woodlands Skin Biopsies – Dermatologist Anthony J. Perri, M.D.

Did you know there are over 2 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the U.S. alone every year? Indeed, with seemingly harmless growths like moles having the potential to turn dangerous and myriad other skin conditions, some of which can mimic forms of cancer, more and more people are beginning to have skin biopsies. The Woodlands and Conroe patients have biopsies done for a variety of reasons, and a histologic diagnosis can provide peace of mind if the skin lesion is benign and immediate treatment if the finding is premalignant or cancerous.

What is a Skin Biopsy?

Simply stated, a skin biopsy is the removal of cells or skin tissues from the body’s surface. By taking these samples and examining them further, Dr. Perri can rule out or gain additional information on various skin conditions affecting patients in Conroe and The Woodlands. Skin biopsies are classified into three major types, including:

  • Shave biopsy: A tool similar to a razor is employed to collect a small sample section of the uppermost skin layers (specifically, the epidermis and a portion of the dermis).
  • Punch biopsy: A circular tool is used to collect a small sample section, including deeper skin layers (specifically, the epidermis, dermis and superficial fat).
  • Excisional biopsy: A scalpel is employed to remove an entire growth or area of abnormal skin. This includes a portion of normal skin potentially extending down through the fatty layer.

Dr. Perri will determine the type of biopsy required based on your specific condition.

Reasons for Skin Biopsies

The Woodlands and Conroe patients sometimes get confused about the purpose of a biopsy and understandably so. Skin biopsies are performed for a variety of reasons. Some are done to harvest skin samples to confirm or rule out the existence of certain skin conditions, while others are also used as a form of treatment to remove skin anomalies entirely. Some common reasons skin biopsies are performed are for the treatment or diagnosis of the following conditions:

  • Actinic keratosis (rough, scaly patches of skin from years of sun exposure)
  • Bullous pemphigoid (large, fluid-filled blisters on commonly flexed areas) and other blistering skin disorders
  • Dermatitis, psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions
  • Skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma
  • Skin infection
  • Skin tags
  • Suspicious moles or other growths
  • Warts

What Can I Expect During My Skin Biopsy?

Prior to your biopsy, it’s important to inform Dr. Perri if you’ve been previously diagnosed with or have ever experienced excessive bleeding after a medical procedure, are currently taking any immune-suppressing or blood-thinning medications, or have a history of skin infections. Knowing this will help Dr. Perri ensure you have a smooth and comfortable experience.

Here’s what you can expect on the actual day of your biopsy:

  1. The target area will be thoroughly cleaned. A surgical marker may also be used to outline the area.
  2. Local anesthesia will be administered to the target area via a thin needle. For a few seconds after injection, you may experience a burning sensation, but this will subside and you should feel no pain or discomfort for the duration of your procedure.
  3. A sample section or, in some cases, an entire skin growth, will be removed. Depending on what type of biopsy is being performed, the method of removal and depth of incision will vary slightly.
  4. Following the removal of the target area of skin, resulting bleeding will be treated with the application of pressure, topical medication, and stitches as needed. An adhesive bandage or wound dressing will be applied to protect the wound from infection and allow proper healing.

The entire procedure, from prep to care instructions afterward, usually only takes about 5 minutes.

After Your Biopsy: Care and Results

Dr. Perri will give you specific instructions on caring for your biopsy wound after the procedure concludes, but there are some general guidelines for care that apply in most cases. You should avoid bumping or stretching the biopsy site, as this could cause bleeding or enlargement of the scar. If bleeding does occur post-operation, it can usually be stopped by applying direct pressure to the wound for 10-20 minutes. When caring for your wound, do the following:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching the wound site.
  • Wash the site gently with soap and water. Wounds on the scalp can be cleansed with shampoo.
  • Rinse the site thoroughly, ensuring no soap remains.
  • Gently pat the site dry with a clean towel. Applying too much force could cause bleeding.
  • Cover the site with an adhesive bandage. Ensure the bandage you use allows proper ventilation of the skin.

Depending on the type of biopsy, the test results from your samples will be available within a few days to a few weeks. Dr. Perri may wish to schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss your results, or he may have them delivered over the phone. If you have any questions in the interim, though, please feel free to give us a call. We’re happy to help!

Questions or concerns about skin biopsies? The Woodlands and Conroe dermatologist Dr. Anthony J. Perri and his staff are here to help. Call today for your appointment: The Woodlands – 281.943.2749 Conroe – 936.522.4966