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Understanding Excision Biopsies: A Comprehensive Guide for Healthy Skin

Nov 7, 2023
Dr Amit Goyal

Navigating the journey to skin health can sometimes lead to the need for an excision biopsy, a critical tool in a dermatologist’s arsenal for diagnosing and treating skin conditions. This minor surgical procedure not only plays a pivotal role in dermatology but also embodies hope for numerous patients grappling with skin abnormalities. By sharing real patient stories and explaining the procedure and its aftermath, this article aims to demystify excision biopsies, providing reassurance and knowledge to those who may be facing this procedure.


Patient Stories:


Sarah, a teacher in her mid-thirties, first noticed a mole on her shoulder that had changed in color and size. Initially dismissing it as a harmless blemish, a routine check with a dermatologist led to an excision biopsy. Similarly, Michael, a retiree, underwent an excision biopsy after his GP noticed an irregularity on his skin during a check-up for an unrelated issue. Both their stories highlight the importance of vigilance and expert intervention in skin health.


What is an Excision Biopsy?


An excision biopsy is a medical procedure where a dermatologist removes a piece of tissue or a skin lesion in its entirety. This is often performed under local anaesthesia and is essential in diagnosing various skin conditions, from benign moles to malignancies like melanoma.


Why is an Excision Biopsy Required in Dermatology?


Dermatology thrives on precision diagnosis. An excision biopsy provides a definitive answer when a skin lesion cannot be diagnosed by appearance alone. It aids in:


1. Diagnosing Skin Cancers: Early detection and treatment of skin cancers hinge on tissue analysis.

2. Confirming Skin Conditions: Conditions like psoriasis or lupus can be confirmed with tissue samples.

3. Treatment Planning: Understanding the nature of a skin lesion guides dermatologists in crafting a targeted treatment plan.


What Happens in an Excision Biopsy?


The procedure is straightforward but requires meticulous execution:


1. Preparation: The area around the skin lesion is cleaned and marked.

2. Anaesthesia: A local anaesthetic is administered to numb the area.

3. Excision: The dermatologist uses a scalpel to remove the lesion, along with some surrounding tissue for analysis.

4. Closure: The incision is sutured to promote healing.


Patients may feel pressure but no pain during the procedure. It typically takes 15-30 minutes, depending on the size and location of the lesion.


What Happens After an Excision Biopsy?


Post-procedure care is critical for healing and includes:


1. Wound Care: Instructions on how to care for the site are provided to prevent infection and promote healing.

2. Results: Pathology results can take anywhere from several days to a week. This can be an anxious time for patients, but understanding that this step is crucial for their health is comforting.

3. Follow-Up: Depending on the results, further treatment may be recommended. If the lesion is benign, routine monitoring might be all that’s needed.




Excision biopsies are a testament to the precision and care embedded in dermatology. They’re not just procedures but pathways to peace of mind for patients. Whether it's for Sarah, Michael, or any individual facing uncertainties about their skin health, an excision biopsy is a step toward clarity and treatment. At our online skin clinic, mySkinDoc, we understand the intricacies of such procedures and provide comprehensive care before, during, and after an excision biopsy, ensuring you are in safe and skilled hands on your journey to skin health.

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