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What is a vulvar biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure by which a small sample of skin or tissue is removed and tested for abnormalities. A vulvar biopsy is usually a test for skin cancer or another sort of skin disease. During a vulvar biopsy, a small piece of tissue is taken from the area of the skin in the outer part of the woman’s genitals, that looks abnormal.

Why is a vulvar biopsy performed?

If you have patches of your vulvar that might appear abnormal, your doctor may recommend that you have a vulvar biopsy. ‘Abnormal’ skin may be any of the following:

  • Areas of skin that are white
  • Areas of skin that are red, pink, grey, brown
  • Areas of skin that are bumpy
  • A sore that is persistent or won’t heal
  • Genital warts that reoccur

What happens during the procedure of a vulvar biopsy?

A biopsy is a fairly quick procedure, taking only about 20 minutes to perform.

First, you will receive some local anesthetic which will help to numb the area. Once numb, your doctor will take a sample of the skin with a tool. The amount of skin removed will depend on your individual condition – your doctor at OneWelbeck will discuss with you which kind of biopsy you will need.

The tissue removed during the biopsy is then checked for abnormalities. Your doctor will tell you if you need any follow-up tests.

Following your procedure

The general anesthetic will wear off after 2 hours after which you will be advised to take some paracetamol. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packet or ask you pharmacist.

What are the risks of a vulvar biopsy?

Like any procedure, a vulvar biopsy has some possible risks/side effects such as:

  • Pain
  • Infection – symptoms of infection include increase in pain, redness, swelling, or discharge from the wound.
  • Bleeding – note, a small amount of bleeding is normal. Applying a small amount of pressure for 20 minutes should stop the bleeding
  • Blood blister (hematoma)
  • Bruising
  • Loss of skin color in the area (hypopigmentation)
  • Scaring