How to Prepare for a Skin Biopsy

If your doctor recommends a skin biopsy, tell your provider if you're allergic to local anesthetics (numbing medications). Take a bath or shower before your appointment. After the biopsy, do not remove the bandage for at least 24 hours.

Skin Biopsy: What to Expect

During a skin biopsy, your doctor removes a small sample of tissue for testing in a lab. The procedure takes place in your doctor's office.

Your provider will inject numbing medicine at the biopsy site (place on the body being tested). The medication works right away, so you won't feel pain during the procedure. The numbing medication lasts for about three hours.

To stop any bleeding, you may have:

  • Cauterization, which uses a safe electric current to seal blood vessels
  • Chemical hemostatic agent, powder that causes blood to clot
  • Stitches

Your doctor will apply a bandage and thin layer of Vaseline® on the site.

After the Procedure

Follow your doctor's instructions on how to take care of yourself and the biopsy site. You can resume most of your normal activities the same day. Avoid:

  • Intense exercise
  • Saunas
  • Swimming
  • Touching the biopsy site

Are There Risks?

You may experience:

  • Minor bleeding
  • Infection, rarely
  • Keloids, reddish lumps on the healing skin
  • Scab that falls off naturally in one to two months
  • Scar at the biopsy site that may fade over time

Your Biopsy Results

A pathologist will examine your sample using a high-powered microscope. Expect a phone call with your results in one to two weeks. Rely on our team to recommend and help coordinate any needed follow-up care.

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