Skin biopsies are performed to help with the diagnosis of your skin condition. Sometimes, different skin conditions can look similar and if there is suspicion of a possible skin caner, a biopsy will be performed. After the site is adequately numbed, your Dermatologist will either take a small scraping of the skin lesion (shave biopsy) or use a cookie cutter type device to remove the suspicious area (punch biopsy). A punch biopsy requires sutures. The skin (specimen) is then sent to the pathologist where it is processed and evaluated under the microscope to confirm the clinical findings.
If my Dermatologist thinks it is a cancer, why do a biopsy? Why not remove the entire spot today?
There are many types of skin cancer and each has different treatment options. If the spot turns out not to be a cancer and it was excised, it was done so unnecessarily. So, the biopsy would have prevented that burden for the patient. If the spot turns out to be cancerous, the type of procedure performed and the amount of skin needed to be excised will depend on the severity of that cancer. Those biopsy results provide the information necessary to help the Dermatologist determine which procedure will be the easiest for the patient, yet have the highest cure rate as well.
How will my skin cancer be treated?
Most skin cancers when caught early enough can be treated under local anesthesia in less than one hour in the clinic. We will give you preoperative instructions and medications to avoid prior to your surgery. Typically, an excision will be performed to remove the lesion and a 3-4 mm standardized margin around the lesion will also be removed which will vary depending on what type of cancer is present to give you the best cure rate. Your dermatologist will carefully and aesthetically suture the wound and provide you with strict post-operative instructions. You will return approximately one week later for suture removal and to discuss the pathology results. Electrodessication & Curettage (repeated cycles of scraping and burning the cancer) can also be performed on some type of skin cancers. Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized surgery for "high real estate" areas of the face including the skin around the eye, nose, and mouth which selectively removes the smallest amount of skin possible. Your Dermatologist may refer you for Mohs surgery if your cancer is located in one of these locations for your best cosmetic results and highest cure rate. Mohs surgery is also recommended for recurrent skin cancers. Remember that all treatments have some risk of recurrence so it is up to you and your dermatologist to check your skin on a regular basis for both recurrence of the skin cancer and new growths.
Removal of Benign Lesions
Moles, skin tags, cysts and other growths can easily be removed under local anesthesia. There are various methods of removing different lesions including cryotherapy, electrosurgery, excision, and laser. Removal of benign lesions are not typically covered by insurance. The cost of the procedure varies by size, number, and location but generally costs $150 - $550. We provide patients with 10% discount for removal of non-covered lesions. Please discuss your concerns with Dr. Haley and she can discuss your best treatment options to leave minimal scarring and provide you with the results that you want.