Are you concerned about a suspicious mole or skin lesion? Understanding the types and benefits of skin biopsies can help ease your worries and guide you toward the appropriate treatment. Skin biopsies, specifically shave and punch biopsies, are common procedures used to diagnose various skin conditions. They offer a way to identify and treat skin issues early, and you can get them at Westford Dermatology & Cosmetic Center in Boston.


Skin biopsies provide several advantages, including early detection of skin conditions, accurate diagnosis, and the ability to plan appropriate treatments. Removing a small skin tissue sample allows for a thorough examination under a microscope, allowing abnormalities to be promptly identified and addressed. Whether you’re dealing with potential skin cancer or other dermatological conditions, a skin biopsy can be a vital step toward effective treatment.

Common Conditions Treated

At trusted practices like the Westford Dermatology & Cosmetic Center, skin biopsies are used to diagnose a wide range of conditions:

  • Skin cancer – Identifying basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma
  • Rashes and dermatitis – Determining the underlying causes of persistent skin irritations
  • Infections – Diagnosing bacterial, fungal, or viral infections affecting the skin
  • Autoimmune disorders – Detecting diseases like lupus and psoriasis
  • Unusual skin growths – Evaluating moles, warts, and other skin lesions for malignancy.

Procedure Details

Shave Biopsy

A shave biopsy involves removing a thin layer of skin. It is typically used for lesions that are raised above the skin surface. Here’s what to expect:

  1. Preparation – The area is cleaned, and a local anesthetic is applied to numb the skin.
  2. Procedure – The lesion will be shaved off using a small, sharp blade. 
  3. Post-procedure – The area is usually bandaged, and you can go about your day with minimal discomfort.

Punch Biopsy

A punch biopsy involves using a circular tool to remove a small, deeper sample of skin, including the epidermis, dermis, and superficial fat. This method is suitable for diagnosing conditions that affect deeper layers of the skin. The procedure usually includes the following:

  1. Preparation – Similar to a shave biopsy, the area is cleaned and numbed with a local anesthetic.
  2. Procedure – A circular blade is pressed into the skin, rotated to cut through all layers, and the sample is removed.
  3. Post-Procedure – The site may require a few stitches and a bandage is applied.

Both procedures are outpatient, which is favorable for busy patients looking for convenience and efficiency.

Recovery and Post-Procedure Care

Recovery from a skin biopsy is generally quick and straightforward.

Shave biopsy

Healing typically takes a few days. Keep the area clean and covered with a bandage until it heals.

Punch biopsy

Healing may take a bit longer, especially if stitches are involved. Follow instructions for wound care and avoid strenuous activities that could stress the area.

In both cases, watch for signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, or discharge, and contact an experienced doctor like Dr. Steven Franks if these occur.

Consultation Process

During your visit to the Westford Dermatology & Cosmetic Center, Dr. Franks will discuss your concerns, evaluate the area in question, and determine the most appropriate type of biopsy. This personalized approach helps you receive the best possible care suited to your needs.

Contact Us to Learn More

Understanding your skin health is essential, and a skin biopsy can be an important step in diagnosing and treating various conditions. At Westford Dermatology & Cosmetic Center in Boston, MA, Dr. Steven Franks, with over 30 years of experience, leads our team in providing you with expert care. Contact us today to set up a consultation.