Skin biopsy is a medical test in which a skin lesion or rash is removed and is tested under the microscope for potential skin conditions such as skin cancer, psoriasis, etc.

The procedure is usually done under local anesthesia such as lidocaine and results are often out within 3 to 10 days. There are different types of skin biopsy techniques including shave biopsy, punch biopsy, excisional and incisional biopsy. Accordingly, the cost of skin biopsy varies depending on the technique followed.

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Types of Skin Biopsy

Shave Biopsy

A shave biopsy is done with either a small scalpel blade or a curved razor blade. The technique is very much dependent on the skill and experience of the surgeon with some being able to remove small fragment of skin with minimal blemish. The biopsy specimen includes the epidermis and sometimes the superficial portion of the dermis (the second layer of skin). The scalpel blade is slightly angled when performing this procedure.

Shave biopsy is often the ideal technique for diagnosis of basal cell cancer and squamous cell carcinoma.

Punch Biopsy

punch biopsy

A punch biopsy is done with a circular blade ranging in size from 1 mm to 8 mm. The blade, which is attached to a pencil-like handle, is rotated down through the epidermis and dermis, and into the subcutaneous fat, producing a cylindrical core of tissue. An incision made with a punch biopsy is easily closed with one or two sutures

Incisional Biopsy

In an incisional biopsy a cut is made through the entire dermis down to the subcutaneous fat.

Incisional biopsy often yield better diagnosis for deep peninsular skin diseases and more subcutaneous tissue can be obtained than a punch biopsy. Long and thin deep incisional biopsy is excellent on the lower extremities as they allow a large amount of tissue to be harvested with minimal tension on the surgical wound.

Excisional Biopsy

This technique is similar to incisional except that the entire lesion or tumor is removed. This method is used for smaller lesions.

Skin Biopsy Cost

The total cost for skin biopsy depends on a lot of factors such as the anesthetic fee, private hospital fee, private operating facility fee, extent of surgery required. The price of a skin biopsy by a dermatologist is $100 – $300.  The average cost of the biopsy depends on the complexity and location of the biopsy. 

Skin Biopsy Recovery

After skin biopsy, you should take good care of the biopsied area at home. To speed healing, keep the biopsy site moist by applying an ointment which will prevent scabbing and minimize scarring. A small rim of redness is commonly seen at the edge of a healing wound but expanding redness, fever, chills, pus, or significant pain can be signs of an infection, which is uncommon.

How long healing takes varies and depends upon the size and depth of the biopsy, the anatomic site (the face heals much faster than the ankle), and any underlying medical conditions you may have. Most biopsy sites heal within 2 to 3 weeks.

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