A full body skin exam is an important part of healthcare.
During this extensive dermatology exam, your dermatologist will look for signs of skin cancer and other skin conditions. Skin cancer is a serious medical condition that, if not caught early, can be deadly. Fortunately, skin cancer and other skin conditions respond positively to treatment when diagnosed and treated early.
What Happens during a Full Body Dermatology Exam?
Review of your medical history
Like any other medical exam performed by a doctor, a full body exam includes a complete review of your medical history. Your dermatologist will ask about your personal medical history and ask about any family history of skin disorders. Your provider will also review your symptoms, medications, and allergies.
Discussion of any concerns you may have
This is a great time to bring up any concerns you may have about your skin, such as moles and any spots that have recently changed, started bleeding, or begun to hurt. If you are like many patients, you are in tune with your own skin and can spot irregularities.
Changing into a patient gown
You will need to change into a gown for this examination. Please remove your bra and underwear unless you are extremely uncomfortable about it. Skin cancer can occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight.
Head to toe examination
During a full body skin check, your dermatologist will exam your skin from head to toe using tactile detection and sometimes a dermatoscope, which is lighted magnifier. Many pre-cancerous growths can be felt before they can be seen so a thorough exam will include seeing and feeling your skin. A dermatoscope also helps your skin doctor determine if a spot or mole is abnormal.
Even in *that* area down there?
In some cases, a dermatologist will examine the genital and perianal skin during a full body exam. At other times, your skin doctor will only examine the skin in these areas if you request it. If you have noted any concerning skin problems or changes in these areas, do not let embarrassment stop you from asking your dermatologist to take a look – don’t let a minute of awkwardness prevent you from catching skin cancer or another skin condition early, when it is most responsive to treatment.
If your dermatologist finds a concerning area of skin, they may take a biopsy during the full body exam. A biopsy involves administering anesthesia to numb the skin then removing a small area of tissue to send to the laboratory for testing.
There are several types of biopsies. The three main types are:
- Shave biopsy – your dermatologist uses a tool similar to a razor to remove a small section of the top two layers of skin
- Punch biopsy – your skin doctor uses a sharp, hollow, circular instrument tool to remove a small, circular patch of skin, about the size of a pencil eraser; punch biopsies remove a core of tissue that includes deeper layers of skin
- Excisional biopsy – your dermatologist uses a small knife, known as a scalpel, to remove a lump or area of abnormal skin; the biopsy will include a portion of normal skin
For more information on what you can expect from a full body skin check, request an appointment with Valley Skin Institute. Our Board-Certified dermatologists and skin health professionals are always glad to answer your questions. We offer a number of cosmetic and medical procedures to diagnose and treat a wide variety of skin conditions, ranging from acne to aging and skin cancer. You can also purchase skincare from Valley Skin Institute to keep your skin healthy.