standard-title Skin Biopsies

Skin Biopsies

Suspicious spots or moles can be tested with biopsy under local anaesthetic and specimen sent to pathology for testing.

A few lesions need to be removed completely by excision instead of taking a biopsy. A biopsy takes a sample of the lesion to be examined by the pathologist to diagnose skin cancer.

The procedure takes a few minutes and is done under local anaesthetic, where a small amount of anaesthetic is injected into the lesion to make it numb. Although you may feel a slight sting with the injection for the local anaesthetic, you will not feel any pain with the biopsy itself.


The most common biopsy techniques are the shave biopsy and the punch biopsy.

Shave Biopsy

A shave biopsy is taken with a special blade that scrapes a thin layer of skin that includes the spot or mole of concern. The resulting wound is a small abrasion (like a scraped knuckle or knee) that does not need any stitches.  It usually heals quickly with minimal scarring and just needs a bandaid or dressing to protect it.



Punch Biopsy

A punch biopsy is taken with a special round blade to take a sample of full skin thickness from a lesion.  Depending on the size of the punch (varies from 2mm to 8mm diameter) the wound will be either simply dressed without stiches if it is a small punch, or may need 1 or 2 stitches for a larger punch. The wound usually heals quickly within a week and leaves a small scar.