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Skin Biopsy


A skin biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small piece of skin for testing. Part or all of a skin lesion (affected area of skin) may be removed. A punch biopsy allows the whole thickness of a very small piece skin to be taken.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Your healthcare provider will clean the skin where he will do the biopsy. He will use a local anesthetic medicine to make you more comfortable during your procedure. This medicine is a shot put into the skin that will numb the area, and dull your pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure after you get this medicine.

During your procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider will stretch the skin around the biopsy area to make the skin tight. The biopsy punch tool will be firmly placed on the area where the skin sample will be taken. Your healthcare provider will move and press the punch downward to cut the skin. A punch with a round cutting edge will be rotated (turned in circles). If the punch has an oval cutting edge, the punch will be moved back and forth. Once the skin is loosened, your healthcare provider will pull it up, and cut it out.
  • The wound may be closed with tapes or stitches. Your healthcare provider may put medicine on your wound to stop the area from bleeding. The skin sample will be sent to a lab for tests.

After your procedure:

A bandage will cover the biopsy area to keep it clean and dry, and protect the area from infection. When the procedure is over, you may be able to go home. You will return to your room, or stay in your room, if you are a hospital patient. You may have some bleeding, oozing, redness, or swelling after the biopsy. These are normal. You may also have pain during the first 24 to 48 hours after your procedure.


  • A skin biopsy may cause you to bleed from the biopsy area, or get an infection. You may have bruising, swelling, or pain in the area where the biopsy was done. You may have scarring from where the skin tissue was removed. You are at higher risk of having problems healing after your procedure if you smoke, or take steroid medicines. You may have an allergic response from the numbing medicine used for the procedure.
  • If you do not have a needed skin biopsy, you may have a serious skin or nerve condition, and not know it. Serious skin and nerve conditions left untreated may cause you to have lifelong problems and illness.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Skin Biopsy (Inpatient Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes