Date issued: March 2019
For review: March 2021
Ref: A-271/JB/Having a mouth or facial skin biopsy/Maxillofacial v3
The purpose of this leaflet is to explain the procedure and answer some commonly asked questions. If you have any further questions, please contact the oral and maxillofacial
department using the contact information
provided at the end of this leaflet.
What is a mouth or facial biopsy?
A biopsy is the name for the procedure to
remove a small part of abnormal tissue from the face or mouth.
The small part we remove is sent to our pathologist for examination under the microscope so that we can make a definitive diagnosis.
The abnormal tissue we are sampling is called the lesion.
You will have been told during your visit whether we intend to remove the whole lesion or just a small piece of it.
Why do I need a biopsy?
Your dentist or doctor has sent you to see us for a second opinion, to try and find out what the lesion is and what treatment, if any, is required.
Many lesions in the mouth and face look similar, so it is important to know the exact nature of the lesion so that we can tailor treatment exact to your needs.
How long will the biopsy take?
The procedure should take approximately 20 minutes but it may take slightly longer.
How will the procedure be carried out?
Usually the procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic (i.e. a small injection in the mouth or face to numb the area) in our outpatient clinic.
It may be necessary to carry out the procedure with you sedated or under a general anaesthetic in the hospital. If this is the case, this will have been discussed with you during your initial consultation.
What should I expect afterwards?
You are likely to feel some discomfort but this is easily dealt with by taking pain relief. Ibuprofen or paracetamol taken regularly ( as advised by your doctor) are generally all that is needed to feel more comfortable.
Always read the labels for directions especially if you take other medicines or if you have been given prescription pain relief.
Swelling and bruising
Again, this is to be expected at the operation site but is usually mild. The swelling will probably be at its most noticeable on the first and second day after the operation.
We usually use dissolvable stitches. If not, you will be given a letter on discharge from the clinic or ward with an appointment to have the stitches removed. Alternatively, you may be asked to see the practice nurse at your doctor’s surgery to have the stitches removed.
Will I be given instructions afterwards?
Following the procedure you will be given verbal and written information on aftercare.
If you have had a local anaesthetic you will be able to return home straight after your appointment. If you have had a general anaesthetic or sedation, it is essential someone takes you home and that there is a responsible adult to stay with you for 24 hours. For this period of time you should not:
- Drive a car, motorbike or ride a bicycle
- Drink alcohol
- Operate machinery or do anything requiring skill or judgement, including cooking
- Making important decisions or sign any documents
When can I return to work?
You can usually return to work the same day if the procedure has been carried out under local anaesthetic. If you have had sedation or general anaesthetic you will require a day or two off work.
Follow –up appointment
If a follow-up appointment is needed you will be able to make this before you leave the clinic . This will check that everything is healing well and to let you know the result of the microscope test.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Hospital switchboard on
And ask to be put through to the Oral and Maxillofacial Department.
Maxillofacial Department is open Mon-Fri 9:00 to 5:00