Skin Biopsy

Skin Biopsy

The skin is the largest organ, and as such can develop numerous different problems.  These problems range all the way from rashes to skin cancers. In all, there are more than 3,000 different skin conditions. As dermatologists, we are asked daily to evaluate a substantial number of these, diagnose them, and treat them.

In many cases the diagnosis is based off what we can see visually with the spots in the skin, including their appearance and location. However, in a sizable portion of the cases, additional testing is often needed to better clarify the diagnosis – of all these tests, the skin biopsy procedure is most central.

Skin Biopsy Dermatologists Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA

In a nutshell, a skin biopsy involves removing a sample of skin using surgical techniques so that microscopic analysis can be done.  In the case of rashes, skin biopsies may help clarify the diagnosis especially in stubborn rashes.  For certain skin growths, the skin biopsy may be necessary to determine if something is cancerous.

Minor Procedures

Skin biopsies are always minor procedures, and there are three main techniques for performing a skin biopsy. These types of biopsies include:

  • shave biopsy
  • punch biopsy
  • incisional/excisional biopsy

Shave Skin Biopsy

The shave biopsy is the most commonly used method.  With a shave biopsy, a portion of a skin biopsy is removed by being shaved off with a blade. The area from where the biopsy was removed is then left open to heal.

Punch Biopsy

In contrast, a punch biopsy involves using a skin punch instrument to remove a plug of skin, then using stitching to close the area where that plug was removed.

Incisional or Excisional Biopsy

Finally, in an incisional or excisional biopsy, we are generally cutting into or around a skin spot in a deeper fashion. That area is then stitched with a few layers of sutures to close the remaining opening.

Skin Biopsy Methods

The type of skin biopsy method chosen is based on several key factors.  The best dermatologists in Omaha pay critical attention to the type of conditions they suspect during examination and the location of the biopsy.  Regardless of the technique used for obtaining a skin biopsy specimen, the specimen is afterwards sent to the laboratory.  There it is processed, and a microscopic examination of the specimen then takes place.  The key thing to understand is that the whole purpose for getting a skin biopsy is to assist in diagnosis.

The best dermatologists know that one of the greatest challenges in the specialty of dermatology is the clinicopathologic correlation. This involves taking the pathology report from the skin biopsy and interpreting the results considering what each patient has going on with their skin condition.  From that comes decisions about what to do in each case to treat the condition.


As with any medical procedure, a skin biopsy can involve some discomfort. In our clinics at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands, we perform many thousands of skin biopsies every year. All our dermatology providers have vast experience in skin biopsy techniques. For all these reasons, we have put a huge focus on making biopsy procedures more tolerable for our patients.

Our pain-reduction methods include:

  • special local anesthetic preparation
  • chilling of biopsy sites to reduce needle-stick discomfort
  • use of an oscillating medical device to dull nerves in the skin

We are very proud of these special methods and have received amazing feedback from patients we see on how well they work.

Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists

If you have a concern about a skin condition, consult one of the providers at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands. If we may be of any further assistance, feel free to contact us for a consultation at any of our Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands clinics in Omaha, Council Bluffs or the surrounding communities. For any information or to make an appointment please contact us today.