What is a lip biopsy?

A lip biopsy is a surgical procedure that involves taking a sample of tissue from the lip for analysis in a laboratory. There are several reasons why a lip biopsy may be requested. The procedure does not take much time and there are minimal risks to the patient, especially when performed by an experienced doctor. Results are usually available in about a week, unless there are special circumstances. When a lip biopsy is recommended, patients may ask why the procedure is being requested and what the possible results are.

A common reason for requesting a lip biopsy is to investigate a lesion on the lip. If a lip develops a lesion that will not heal despite time and supportive therapy, a biopsy may be used to learn more about what is causing it. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy may be used to stage and determine the source of the cancer. Biopsies may also be ordered in suspected cases of Sjogren's syndrome, to evaluate the salivary glands found in the lower lip. They can also be helpful in diagnosing other conditions, such as sarcoidosis.

In a lip biopsy, the patient will be seated and a local anesthetic will be applied. The doctor will examine the lip to find the best site for a sample and will use surgical instruments to take some of the tissue and place it in a biopsy container so it can be sent to a lab. The patient's lip will feel numb until the anesthesia wears off and the patient may experience some soreness and soreness that can be managed with ice.

Patients are advised to avoid eating until the numbness resolves and may want to eat bland foods that are easy to consume until the biopsy site heals. The oral mucosa heals very quickly, so the patient should recover in a week or less. The biggest risk is the possibility of infection if the site is not kept clean. Normal oral hygiene is usually enough to prevent infection and allow the incision to heal.

Once the results come back, the doctor can discuss them with the patient. Negative results indicate that nothing abnormal was identified during an examination of the biopsied tissue. If the results are abnormal, the doctor can discuss the implications of the results and possible treatment options. These may include medications, another procedure to remove abnormal tissue, and topical preparations.

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