What is it?

A skin biopsy is a quick and simple procedure that removes a small sample of skin for testing. It usually takes place in your doctor’s office. You may need a skin biopsy to help your doctor diagnose diseases such as skin cancer, infection or other skin condition.

Your tissue sample will be sent to a lab, where a pathologist will examine it and report back to your doctor. Types of skin biopsy include:

  • Shave biopsy a smaller sample of skin is shaved off using a razor-like instrument
  • Punch biopsy your GP takes a tissue sample using small device that works a bit like a hole punch
  • Excision biopsy a skin lesion, such as skin cancer, is removed along with some surrounding skin


What do I need to do before the procedure?

You do not need to do anything to prepare for the procedure.


What will happen?

Your doctor will give a local anaesthetic to numb the area. They will use a small metal device (such as a scalpel or razor) to remove a small piece of tissue from the area. Your results will be available in about a week.

Sometimes, you may need stitches to close the wound and help it heal. Your GP will discuss how to care for the skin after the biopsy and may ask you to come back in to discuss the results and remove any stitches.


What can I expect after?

There are no after-effects from the procedure. If you experience pain at the excision site, you can take over the counter pain medication to help.