COVID-19 information

Visiting is once again welcomed at The Walton Centre. So that we can safely reintroduce visiting, visits should be pre-booked with an allocated appointment slot. Patients can have two visitors each.

General safety measures remain in place at The Walton Centre - and in our other clinic settings within the community – until further notice. These include temperature checks, the wearing of face coverings and social distancing.

Biopsy - Skin

What is a skin biopsy? 

A skin biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of your skin is removed then studied under a microscope to identify abnormalities to achieve a diagnosis. 

Why is a skin biopsy performed? 

A skin biopsy is usually performed to diagnose the cause of abnormal-looking skin. However, in neurological patients, skin biopsy is sometime done in normal-looking skin to study small nerve fibres, or alternatively it can be taken from the armpit or other areas to help identify unusual genetic and/or metabolic diseases. It is performed by a surgical doctor. 

How to prepare for a skin biopsy? 

You don’t need to do much to prepare for this procedure. Please tell your doctor about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements you are taking prior to a procedure. They will discuss whether you should stop taking them before and during the test. 

If you are unable to attend for your biopsy appointment please let the hospital know as soon as possible (you can call the Jefferson ward booking team directly on 0151 529 5488). Failure to attend without proper notice wastes a theatre slot and will result in you being removed from the surgical waiting list. This could result in a significant delay to a diagnosis being made. 

What happens during a skin biopsy? 

On the day of the biopsy, you will change into a hospital gown and taken to an operating theatre where the procedure will be done. The surgeon will locate the site for biopsy. He or she will then use a small needle to deliver local anaesthetic that will numb the skin near the biopsy site. Then, a small incision will be made in the skin and a diamond-shaped sample of about 5-10 mm diameter will be removed. The skin will be closed with stitches. 

Recovering from a skin biopsy 

You will be able to go home following the biopsy. You can eat and drink normally. You will have a small dressing on the wound and will experience some pain and possibly restricted movement in the affected limb as the local anaesthetic wears off. There is no restriction on driving after the procedure but we generally advise that someone else takes you home afterwards just in case there is undue discomfort in the affected limb that could compromise your ability to drive. 

Your wound will take several days to completely heal from the procedure, so during this period, it's important to avoid strenuous activity. Bruising is common for up to a week during which time pain should slowly improve, but if it worsens infection is possible so seek medical attention. If your dressing gets wet, please replace it as wet dressings increase infection risk. Book an appointment with your practice nurse (or local walk-in centre) for suture removal or just a wound check (if dissolvable sutures were used) 10 days after surgery. 

Risks of a skin biopsy 

While a skin biopsy is considered to be a safe procedure, there are still risks involved, including a small risk of bleeding, infection, scarring and allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic. 

After a skin biopsy 

After the biopsy, the tissue sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. It may take a few weeks for results to be ready. Once the results are back, your doctor may call you or have you come into clinic for a follow up appointment to discuss the findings. 

  • Last Updated:
    01 October 2019
  • Review Date:
    01 November 2023
  • Author:
    Ms M Lee, Dr J Holt
  • Summary:

    A skin biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of your skin is removed then studied under a microscope to identify abnormalities to achieve a diagnosis.


  • Related Service:

Related content