Dermatologists are trained to diagnose and treat skin conditions using visual examination, and relying on their specialized knowledge. However, in some cases, additional information is required to distinguish between similar-appearing processes in order to make a more specific diagnosis or to guide more effective treatment.
Instead of sending a tissue sample to an outside laboratory, at Hines Dermatology, Dr. Yvonne Hines uses our on-site dermatopathology laboratory to view the biopsy. This offers a distinct advantage over sending the sample to an outside lab.
What is a skin biopsy?
A skin biopsy is the removal of a small sample from the affected skin. It’s done to diagnose or help treat skin conditions and can be accomplished in one of three ways:
- A small section of skin is "scooped" from the surface and the area heals naturally.
- A punch biopsy is performed to remove a small plug of skin and a suture or two is used to close the wound.
- An excisional biopsy is preferred in the case of a larger abnormal growth, and involves using a scalpel to remove a slightly larger and deeper area of skin. After that, sutures are used to close the wound.
The area of skin to be removed will be numbed before the procedure, regardless of method. This ensures the removal is as painless as possible.
When is a biopsy needed?
When a visual examination alone is insufficient to determine the nature of a skin condition, a biopsy is recommended. A biopsy can also be used to distinguish between two conditions that appear to be very similar, such as a cancerous skin growth and a non-cancerous skin growth, or between psoriasis and eczema.
The decision to perform a biopsy is made jointly by the patient and provider; it is critical to weigh the cost of the procedure and the potential skin discoloration against the potential knowledge gained from the testing.
Advantages of an on-site dermatopathology lab
Dr. Hines specializes in microscopic skin examination, closely evaluating biopsy samples in our on-site laboratory in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The skin sample is embedded in wax before being shaved into extremely thin slices and mounted and stained on microscope slides.
The prepared slides are then examined in order to make a diagnosis that will guide the selection of treatment options. Dr. Hines has excellent quality control over the biopsy samples and microscope slides, thanks to our own licensed and certified, state-of-the-art dermatopathology laboratory.
Because samples are prepared and examined without ever leaving our lab, the time between biopsy and diagnosis and treatment is much shorter. This is a significant advantage over sending samples to an outside lab, which may take weeks to months to receive results.
When dealing with skin conditions, all patients want fast and accurate results. Patients needing a biopsy can rely on prompt results and treatment. To learn more about our dermatopathology services call or request an appointment online to schedule a visit with Dr. Hines.