Eliminating growths on the eyelids or around the eyes is complex since the eyelids open and close all the time, unlike the skin on the arm, back, or other areas of someone’s body. Furthermore, eyelids perform the important task of offering protection to the eyeball.
A biopsy is necessary when there is ambiguity around what growth is. Various types of things can grow on the lid. Some of these growths are benign, such as a nevus or an eyelid cyst. Other things are more serious such as squamous cell cancer, basal cell cancer or even melanoma on the eyelid.
Significance of a Biopsy
The occurrence of squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma is especially worrisome as they typically do not cause pain. These cancers grow gradually (over months or even years, at times) and may appear similar to irritated skin.
But over time, eyelid cancer can be quite damaging leading to pain, blindness, irritation, and in some cases, death. A biopsy can indicate what a growth is and help in determining the fastest and most effective course of treatment.
The procedure for a biopsy is fast and safe. The primary reason to carry out this procedure is to determine precisely what the growth is. The risks typically include infection, poor wound healing, bleeding, issues with the eyelashes, a droopy eyelid, and scarring.
In addition, the surgeon may cautiously watch the lesion. The surgeon will speak with the patient about the risks that are inherent in this approach before going ahead with a biopsy.
The patient will receive local anesthesia to numb the area. This means that the surgeon will apply numbing medicine around the eyelid. Once the medication is in, the patient will not feel a sharp sensation and may just feel some pressure.
The procedure typically takes between 15 and 20 minutes to perform, and it frequently takes under 5 minutes. Eyelid biopsies heal quite well and cause minimal scarring. Many times, the surgeon does not need to suture the wound. However, the patient can expect to have a black and blue eye for up to 14 days post-procedure.
After a Biopsy
Following a biopsy, the surgeon usually advises that the patient take Tylenol (Acetaminophen). The numbing medicine that they use lasts for around 6 to 8 hours. Therefore, a majority of patients do not undergo major discomfort.
Patients should follow the directions on the label cautiously and not exceed the recommended dosage. The surgeon will also prescribe an antibiotic ointment to prevent the occurrence of infection and enhance the healing of the wound.
The pathologist takes between 1 and 2 weeks to report the results. After the results come back, the patient usually feels more at ease knowing what the issue is. In case the result is “normal” or “benign,” then a majority of patients do not require any further action. However, if the results indicate something more severe, the surgeon can discuss the treatment options with the patient.