What is the vulva?
The external female genital area is called the vulva. The outer folds of skin are called the labia majora and the inner folds are called the labia minora. If you see changes on the skin of the vulva, or if you have itching, burning, or pain, contact your health care provider.
What is a vulvar biopsy?
A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue or skin. The biopsy can be looked at under a microscope and helps to determine if you have a specific skin condition. Knowing what is causing your symptoms is important for appropriate management and treatment to alleviate symptoms. The risks of the biopsy include bleeding, infection, scarring, inadequate sample possibly requiring another biopsy procedure, or allergic reaction.
What you should do to prepare?
No preparation is needed; however, be sure to wear loose comfortable clothing. The biopsy can be performed anytime during the menstrual cycle, and you will not need to have anyone drive you to your appointment. No pre-biopsy medications are administered. If you want to take Advil, Aleve or Motrin ahead of time, you are welcomed to do so. The biopsy procedure will take only a few minutes.
What to expect during the procedure?
The area is cleansed with antiseptic solution and a small amount of local anesthetic or “numbing medicine” is injected around the biopsy site using a tiny needle. This portion of the procedure is slightly uncomfortable because the medication causes a burning sensation lasting about 3-5 seconds. During the remainder of the procedure you may feel pressure but should not feel any discomfort. Once a tiny sample has been removed, some pressure may be applied to prevent bleeding. Sometimes a chemical substance is applied to the biopsy site to prevent bleeding. If the biopsy site is larger, it may be necessary to place a dissolvable stitch. The tiny sample of tissue will be sent to pathology for analysis.
What to expect after the procedure?
After the local anesthesia wears off, you may be a little sore. Usually, 400 mg of ibuprofen will be enough to take care of any discomfort. It is important to keep area as clean and dry as possible.
When you urinate, either gently pat dry or rinse with a peri-bottle filled with warm water. Do not rub the area. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure for a few minutes until the bleeding stops. If bleeding persists or if there, are any signs of infection, such as redness, inflammation or pus, then call your health care provider.