Surgical Dermatology

Dermatologic surgery is the repair and improvement of the function and cosmetic appearance of skin, hair and nails.  A skin biopsy or excision is when your dermatologist removes a piece of skin and sends it to a pathology laboratory where a dermatopathologist looks at it under the microscope. Skin biopsies are performed to help with the diagnosis of your skin condition. Sometimes, different skin conditions can look similar to the naked eye so additional information is required. This is obtained by looking at the structure of the skin under the microscope after the cells have been stained with special colored dyes. To obtain more detailed information on some of the more common conditions we treat please feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation.

  • Shave Biopsy. A shave biopsy may be used if the skin lesion is suspected to only affect the top layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis). The dermatologist will take a very superficial piece of skin from the area affected with a scalpel, Dermablade or razor blade. There are usually no stitches required after a shave biopsy but there will be a small scab that should heal in 1-2 weeks depending on the skin lesion involved.
  • Punch Biopsy. Punch biopsies are quick, convenient and usually only produce a small wound. They allow the pathologist to get a full thickness view of the skin. More than one punch biopsy may be required depending on the condition being investigated. The punch biopsy blade takes a small round core of tissue ranging from 2mm-8mm in diameter. If the wound is small, it may heal adequately without a stitch, however a stitch is usually required to close the wound.
  • Excisional and Incisional Biopsy. Incisional biopsies are used when a larger piece of skin is needed to make a correct diagnosis. The dermatologist will cut out a piece of skin with a scalpel blade. Stitches are usually required after this type of procedure.
  • Electrodessication and Curettage. Electrodessication and curettage is a destruction procedure in which your dermatologist scrapes off a skin lesion and subsequently applies heat to the skin surface.