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HealthInfo Canterbury

Removal (excision) or biopsy of a skin lesion

A skin biopsy is when a doctor removes only a small part of a skin lesion for testing. A lesion is an area of damaged skin, like a mole, freckle, or spot. Excision is when the whole lesion is removed. In both cases, the skin is sent to the laboratory, where a specialist examines it under a microscope to find out if it is cancerous or not.

Many GPs are specially trained to remove skin lesions, so often your own doctor may be able to treat you. The cost of biopsy and excision varies between doctors, and the type and size of the lesion. You may be eligible for a subsidy to reduce the cost of the procedure. Talk to your GP about this.

If your doctor is not trained in removing skin lesions, or thinks your lesion is more complicated, they can refer you to another doctor who specialises in this procedure. This could be a general practitioner who does skin excision surgery. Or it could be Minor Surgery at Burwood Hospital.

A small number of people with skin cancer are suitable for Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery (or Mohs micrographic surgery) is a specialised technique. Your GP can refer you to a dermatologist in the public health system if you may be suitable for this.

Alternatively, you may wish to pay to see a GP with special interest in skin surgery, private plastic surgeon, or a private dermatologist. You can find a private dermatologist on:

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Discharge and wound care advice after your skin surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical directors, Dermatology and Plastic Surgery, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed September 2017.

See also:

Risks and complications of skin surgery

In this section

Discharge & wound care advice after your skin surgery

Discharge advice after a local anaesthetic procedure

Risks & complications of skin surgery

Page reference: 87512

Review key: HIEXS-87512