Shave Biopsy

What is a shave biopsy?

A shave biopsy a bedside procedure where your doctor uses a surgical superficial shaving blade to remove the skin lesion under the use of local anaesthesia. The surgical site will then be electrically cauterized to stop bleeding.


  • The procedure allows removal superficial skin lesions with minimal downtime
  • Good healing time usually healed 1-3 days
  • No need of stitching or suturing of wound

What is a shave biopsy for?

A shave biopsy is suitable for:

  • Seborrheic keratosis
  • Superficial skin lesions

What results can I expect?

The surgical site will heal with a scab and the scab usually falls off after 1-3 days, leaving behind pinkish new skin.

How many sessions needed?

Usually 1 session should suffice. Your doctor may advise you to return to clinic in 1-2 weeks time for follow up of the procedural site.

Shave Biopsy


No fasting is required. You are advised to inform your doctor on your past medical histories and medication that you are taking.

Shave biopsy procedure is performed under local anaesthesia. Your doctor will usually administer anaesthesia medication via injection to the biopsy site to numb the region before the procedure. You may feel slight discomfort from the numbing injection, otherwise shave biopsy procedure are generally well-tolerated by patients. If you have reduced pain threshold, you are encouraged to inform your doctor before the procedure.

This will depend on individual underlying medical history (if any), size or extend of the wound and the location of the wound. As a rule of thumb, the healing process takes about 4 to 6 weeks.

Yes, it is. Shave biopsy procedure has minimal risk of bleeding and scarring. Shave biopsy on the face is commonly performed for conditions such as seborrheic keratosis, cutaneous horns or other superficial skin lumps and bumps. Your doctor will guide you on the procedure, what to expect after the procedure, and the skin outcome post procedure.

The risks of shave biopsy procedure include bleeding, pain, infection risk and injury to surrounding tissues such as nerve or blood vessels, and scarring risk. During your consult, your doctor will explain and guide you further on the risks and benefits of shave biopsy procedure.

Your doctor usually will cover the shave biopsy wound with a water proof dressing. You can keep the dressing on for 24 hours. After that, you can consider bathing, shower over the biopsy region.

Ensure the wound site is clean and dry (pat dry after shower), and you are encouraged to apply antibiotic cream (which your doctor will prescribe) and a vaseline ointment to the wound region to promote healing.

You may cover the wound with a light water proof dressing if the wound area tends to rub or scratch on clothing or other surfaces.

If you notice your shave biopsy wound is slightly oozy after the procedure, apply a constant and firm pressure onto the bleeding site for 15-30 minutes. You can try 1 more cycle if it remains oozy. If persistent bleeding, you are advised to reach out to your doctor.

You are advised to keep the shave biopsy site clean and dry for at least 24-48 hours. After that, shave biopsy wound care plan is as discussed above.

Commonly, post procedure, one will notice a pink wound overlying the biopsy site. Over the course of 2-4 weeks, the area will be scabbed off. The scab will eventually fall off, leaving new healthy skin with mild pigmentary/scar changes (can be darker or lighter).

Shave biopsy is used for removing superficial skin lesions. Depending on individual lesion, if the dermis structure is not removed, the scar can be less noticeable.

You can undergo a shave biopsy on a cancer cell if the lesion is superficial. However, your doctor may discuss with you on the pros and cons of a shave biopsy in this instance. Although the healing process for shave biopsy may be faster and there will be less scarring, the procedure may not be able to completely remove the cancer cells that are embedded in the deeper part of the skin. Your doctor may discuss further (if required) for a second procedure to remove the remaining cancer cells.

Shave biopsy allows removal of a superficial skin lesion with possible preservation of the deeper layer of dermis. Shave biopsy wound is able to heal without sutures, while punch biopsy wound is usually closed with secondary sutures.

Punch biopsy collects the whole layer of skin covering the epidermis, dermis and the cutaneous fat as well. In skin conditions that involves the deeper layers of the skin, a punch biopsy may yield a better result on nailing the diagnosis. In superficial benign skin conditions, shave biopsy provides a quick solution, with faster recovery time.

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