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What is a Vulvar Biopsy?
Vulvar Biopsy is a procedure used to diagnose irregular skin tissue often located on the sides of the vaginal opening called the vulva. The sampling is easily done in the office with a small biopsy instrument that picks up a sample of skin tissue when rotated with gentle pressure on the skin. Vulvar biopsy should be done if the abnormal skin area is worrisome for pre-cancer (strange shape, irregular borders, non-healing, change in color, or bleeding). If a diagnosis cannot be made by examining the skin, or treatment you have tried is not working, then a sample of skin tissue needs to be sent for evaluation by a pathologist.
How will a vulvar biopsy help me?
If you feel irregular skin or a bump on your genital area, often your clinician will know what the problem is and offer treatment. On occasion your clinician may not know by looking what the condition is, or s/he may have a concern for pre-cancer. In these cases, a vulvar biopsy is recommended. This tissue biopsy will be examined by a pathologist under a microscope. After the proper diagnosis is made your clinician will be able to better treat the problem.
Can the problem be treated?
Most skin conditions on the genital area can be treated on the day of the initial exam. Some common problems in this area include folliculitis which is caused by shaving or waxing, others are simple cysts or pimples caused by bacteria. External genital warts are caused by exposure to the virus HPV, and can be treated in the clinic with special medication. These conditions will be explained to you at your visit. On rare occasions, the skin condition may be pre-cancerous or cancer and need to be surgically removed.
Is the biopsy painful?
Your clinician will provide medication that numbs the skin prior to obtaining the biopsy. You will feel a small pinch or sting for a few seconds while the medication is given with a small needle used to prepare your skin for the biopsy. Most patients do not feel the biopsy. The biopsy site is small and antibiotic ointment may be applied to protect against infection. Your health care provider will explain how to take care of your skin and how to recognize infection.
When will I have results?
Results are usually available within two weeks. Your clinician will call you personally regarding the results of your biopsy. The treatment is based on your results which will be explained to you during your follow-up phone call.
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