What is a vulval biopsy?
A vulval biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the vulval area. This is being done as sometimes it is not possible to know exactly what is wrong with the skin just from looking or by taking other tests such as blood tests or swabs.
Vulval biopsy will be done under local anaesthesia which will be injected via a needle into the area from where a biopsy is being taken from. Prior to the biopsy your doctors will suggest applying a local anaesthetic cream to make it more comfortable.
A biopsy makes a hole in the skin that usually has to be closed with one or more stitches. The stitches will dissolve in 2 to 3 weeks.
The local anaesthetic which is injected into the skin usually wears off in about an hour. The biopsy site will feel a little sore. You may wish to take feel pain relieve medication such as paracetamol.
We would advise that you avoid heavy work or prolonged standing for the rest of the day after a vulval biopsy.
What is the aftercare advice?
You can wash the vulval skin with plain water after you pass water otherwise, you can just wipe the skin gently with toilet paper as normal.
When you open your bowels, make sure that you wipe the skin in a direction away from the vulva, to keep the biopsy site as clean as possible. Again, if you rinse the skin fully after going to the toilet, that will help to keep the wound as clean as possible.
Please continue to wash the vulval skin every day as normal. It is best to wash the skin with water alone. Avoid any soaps or creams for the first week. This is easiest done in a shower, but if you take a bath, avoid soaking in the bath for long especially for the first few days after the biopsy.
When can I get back to normal after the biopsy?
It will take a few days for the skin to heal up and you will probably find the area is tender. It may sting when you pass water, and you may find that loose clothes are more comfortable for a couple of days.
Vigorous exercise such as running, cycling, horse riding or swimming should be avoided for the first week or so after the biopsy as the area is likely to be uncomfortable and the biopsy site will be fragile.
You can resume sexual intercourse after three or four weeks if the area is fully comfortable.
What are the risks of having a vulval biopsy?
There are some small risks from a procedure like a vulval biopsy.
There will be some bleeding during the procedure and it may leave a small scar at the site. There is also a risk of infection. Occasionally the stitches may break open.
The bleeding starts up again later on in the day and the area may ooze for the first couple of days. It is worth using a sanitary napkin for the first few days until the bleeding stops.
The small wound in the skin can allow infection to get into the body. If this happens, the site of the biopsy will feel more uncomfortable and hot as the days go by and may start to ooze.
If this happens, you should contact your doctor as you may need antibiotic treatment.
If the stitches break open it may take slightly longer to heal but the area will eventually heal with no major problems. Continue to keep the area clean by washing it down with water.
When will I get the result?
The result of the testing of the piece of vulval skin usually comes through after three to four weeks. Your doctor will contact you or arrange to see you again.
Dr Azad Secretary:
Telephone: 01642 854709
Email: [email protected]
Concerns and queries
If you have any concerns or queries about any of the services offered by the Trust, in the first instance, please speak to the person providing your care.
Alternatively you can contact the Patient Experience Department. Contact details can be found below.
Information on NHS patients is collected in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons (for example; providing care and treatment, managing and planning the NHS, training and educating staff, research etc.).
Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to keep information about you confidential.
Information will only ever be shared with people who have a genuine need for it (for example; your GP or other professionals from whom you have been receiving care) or if the law requires it.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.
To ensure we meet your communication needs please inform the Patient Experience Department of any special requirements, for example; braille or large print.
T: 01642 835964
E: [email protected]