Skin Biopsy
What is a skin biopsy?
A skin biopsy is the removal of a piece of skin for the purpose of further examination in the laboratory using a microscope. Skin biopsies are performed to diagnose a number of conditions.

Why is a skin biopsy performed?
Skin biopsy is most frequently done to diagnose a skin growth such as a mole, or a skin condition such as a rash. A skin biopsy can also be used to diagnose a cancer of the skin. A skin biopsy may be indicated when a mole or other marking on the skin has changed in its shape, color, or size. A skin biopsy is also sometimes used to diagnose infections of the skin.

What methods are used to obtain a skin biopsy?
Different techniques are used in different situations. Typically the biopsies are obtained using local anesthetics.
A shave biopsy takes a thin slice off the top of the skin and can be used to remove superficial abnormal areas (lesions).
Obtained using local anesthetics.
A shave biopsy takes a thin slice off the top of the skin and can be used to remove superficial abnormal areas (lesions).
Excisional biopsies are usually larger and deeper and are used to completely remove an abnormal area of skin such as a skin cancer.

What happens to the skin sample after the biopsy is removed?
After the biopsy, the skin sample is fixed in special solution, and thin sections of the tissue are cut and placed on microscope slides. The slides are stained for examination by a doctor (usually a dermatologist or pathologist). Sometimes specialized stains are used to examine for antibodies, immune proteins, and other markers of certain diseases. Initial routine biopsy results can be obtained in 48 hours or less, while specialized staining techniques can require a much longer time until final results are available.