Oral Biopsy

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-137/2023
  • Departments: Oral Surgery, Dentistry and Max Fax
  • Last Updated: 31 July 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your procedure. Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is a Biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure where a small piece of tissue is removed from an area so that it can be looked at closely under a microscope. The biopsy may aim to remove an area completely (an excision biopsy). This is usually only appropriate for small lumps or swellings. Occasionally only a small piece of an abnormal area is removed to confirm a diagnosis (an incisional biopsy), in which case further treatment may sometimes be necessary.

Why do I need a biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure which enables the Doctor to give a diagnosis on your condition.

What will happen?

In most cases biopsies are carried out under local anaesthesia (an injection into the area to numb it). The injection takes a couple of minutes to work and means that the biopsy will be painless. The biopsy usually leaves a small hole that often requires stitching. In the majority of cases the stitches used are dissolvable and t take around two weeks to disappear. The whole process (local anaesthetic injection, biopsy and stitching) usually takes around 15 minutes from start to finish.

Although there may be a little bleeding at the time of biopsy this usually stops very quickly and is unlikely to be a problem if the wound is stitched. Should the biopsy site bleed again applying pressure over the area for at least 10 minutes with a rolled up handkerchief or gauze swab when you get home can usually help. If the bleeding does not stop please contact the department.

What happens afterwards?

When the local anaesthetic wears off after a few hours there is usually relatively little pain or swelling. Occasionally it is necessary to take simple pain relief medication (paracetamol or ibuprofen). Usually any discomfort only lasts a few days.

When can I return to work?

This largely depends on your job and how you feel after the procedure. Most people are able to return to work later the same day.

Are there any things I should do when I get home?

Take care not to bite numb areas of your mouth. On the day of surgery you should avoid rinsing your mouth out vigorously as this may cause bleeding. You should clean your teeth normally, including those teeth next to the site of the biopsy. You should do hot salt mouthwashes using a teaspoonful of salt in a cup of hot water after every meal, starting the day after the biopsy.

For the rest of the day you should avoid hot drinks, and allow meals to cool down to room temperature, this is to avoid bleeding.  Also, advice is to avoid alcohol for 24 hours and any activity that may raise your blood pressure, for example, exercise or strenuous work. Both of those things may bring on bleeding.

Will I need another appointment?

You will be given a further appointment to discuss the results of the biopsy. The sutures used are usually the type that dissolves on their own.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Maxillo-facial Department (01482) 463218.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats your child, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to your child. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your child’s condition, the alternatives available for your child, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about your child

We collect and use your child’s information to provide your child with care and treatment. As part of your child’s care, information about your child will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your child’s information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide your child with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your child’s doctor, or the person caring for your child.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about your child. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you need information about your child’s (or a child you care for) health and wellbeing and their care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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