What is a Biopsy?

A biopsy is often recommended following a consultation on the clinic.

It is a simple procedure that provides tissue for the
histopathologists to discover the presence, cause or
extent of a disease.

The procedure is carried out under local anæsthetic, that is, you will be awake and have an injection to numb up the
tissue in question.  You will have stitches at the biopsy site that dissolve over the next 10 – 14 days.  You can expect
some discomfort and possibly swelling afterwards.  These will settle over the next few days.

The whole process should take less than 30 minutes.

There are two types of biopsy:

Excisional Biopsy.

Where the biopsy aims to remove an area completely.  This is usually only appropriate for small lumps or swellings.
Oral Biopsies
Incisional Biopsy.

Occasionally, only a small piece of an abnormal area is removed to confirm a diagnosis.
How is it done?

A local anæsthetic injection is used to numb the area which takes a couple of minutes to work.  After this injection, the
procedure should be painless.  The biopsy usually leaves a small hole that often requires stitching.  In the majority of
cases the stitches used are dissolvable and take around two weeks to disappear.

All together, this procedure usually takes around 15 - 20 minutes from start to finish.

Before Your Appointment

No special precautions have to be taken before your biopsy.  Make sure you take your medications as normal.

Please eat and drink as normal prior to your appointment and DO NOT miss meals.

After Your Appointment

Following the procedure, the doctor will instruct you on how to keep yourself comfortable over the next few days.

The biopsied area will be sore and any discomfort can be controlled by pain-killers such as
paracetamol or ibuprofen.

You will be able to eat and drink as normal immediately after the biopsy but avoid anything too hot for the first 24
hours.  Try not to either spit out or rinse out the mouth and do not do any physical exertion for the next 24 hours as this
can make the swelling worse or dislodge the blood clot at the site of operation encouraging more bleeding.

Use either a hot salty mouthwash or an antiseptic mouthwash such as
Corsodyl, for the next few days, starting 24
hours after the procedure.  This should lessen
the chance of infection at the biopsy site and hasten the biopsy site’s healing.


If the lump or bump that is being biopsied looks to be a well-recognised or common lump or bump, we won’t
necessarily review you on clinic but will send the biopsy results to you.

In other cases, you will normally be given a review appointment for the biopsy results to be discussed approximately 3
– 4 weeks after the biopsy.
Useful Websites & Articles:

European Association of Oral Medicine


International Agency for Research on Cancer

University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry

Biopsy Post-op Care Advice

Biopsy Technique PowerPoint Presentation

Dent Today 2000.  Soft Tissue Biopsy Techniques for the GP, Part 2

BDJ 2004.  Oral Biopsies - Methods & Applications

Dental Update 2007 - The Surgical Management of the Oral Soft Tissues - Biopsy

Med Oral Patol Cir Bucal 2007.  Oral Biopsy in Dental Practice

J Tennessee Dent Ass 2010.  The Oral Biopsy - Indications, Techniques & Special Considerations

J Irish Dent Assoc 2011.  Performing Mucosal Tissue Biopsies in General Dental Practice

J Can Dent Assoc 2012.  Oral Soft-Tissue Biopsy - An Overview

Ashford & St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  Mouth (Oral) Biopsy under Local Anaesthetic (Oral and
Maxillofacial Surgery)

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  Oral (Mouth) Biopsy

Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust.  Mouth (Oral) Biopsy

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  Advice for Patients having a Mouth or Facial Biopsy

South Devon Healthare NHS Trust.  Patient Information.  Oral (Mouth) Biopsy

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  Oral Mucosal Biopsy

Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.  Information Leaflet.  Biopsy of Mouth Lesion
Last Updated 30th March 2021