Sun & Skin News

Ask the Expert: What Does It Mean if I Get an Inconclusive Biopsy Result?

By Skin Cancer Foundation • December 8, 2021
female scientist examining biopsy under microscope

A skin biopsy is a routine procedure in which a dermatologist removes a small sample of skin, which then goes to a lab for further examination under a microscope by a specially trained physician. Biopsies are used to help your doctor diagnose a variety of skin conditions, including infections, skin disorders and skin cancer. Sometimes, the result of a biopsy will be inconclusive, meaning that the test has not produced a definitive result. This can happen for several reasons: There could have been a problem processing the sample, the sample didn’t contain enough of the affected tissue or the sample size was not large enough.

If your biopsy results are inconclusive, your dermatologist may decide to perform another biopsy or excision to confirm a diagnosis. Alternatively, based on their medical opinion of your condition, your physician may suggest holding off on further procedures while monitoring the affected area to see if any changes occur. Be sure to speak with your physician if you have any questions about your biopsy result or next steps.


Karen Stolman

About the Expert:

Karen R. Stolman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Park City, Utah. She is a long-standing member of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery.