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Three Syllables

8 February, 2018 (21:22) | Biopsy | By: Ian Burdon

I mentioned a month ago that I had a biopsy scheduled, and I had a couple of messages asking me about it (thanks: you know who you are). It happened on Tuesday, and I thought I’d note down something about it.

I have an area of shading on my lower lip, and the plan was to remove a little bit of it and send it off to the lab for confirmation it is no more than a bit of stray pigmentation. It would be wrong to say I wasn’t worried beforehand, mainly about pain.

There were three medics: the doctor who carried out the procedure, a nurse, and a medical student. The doctor introduced herself by name and very clearly told me what was going to happen. I was assured that the number of capillaries in the lip meant it would bleed but also heal quickly. I was told the injection itself would sting, but it would quickly numb. I knew at least one stitch would be inserted.

I was worried the talk about the injection stinging was just some measured understatement to relax me. I can’t say I was relaxed, but actually the injection was fine, and I would describe it as uncomfortable rather than painful. It felt like my lip was massively swollen, but it probably wasn’t. I would say needle entering my lip to numbness was less than 30 seconds.

I didn’t watch or see what the doctor was doing: I’d closed my eyes anyway, but the light from the lamp was too bright even with my eyes closed, so I asked for something to cover my eyes completely. I did not feel the sample being taken at all, and nor did I feel the stitch except as some tugging at my lip as the suture was tied.

It took no more than half an hour altogether including the chat before and after. You can’t put a plaster on a lip so I was given a small tube of Vaseline to apply to keep things moist and reasonably protected.

After a couple of hours the anaesthetic started to wear off, so I took a couple of Paracetomol (Tylenol to North Americans). In fact, in the 60+ hours since the procedure, I have felt no pain at all. It has been awkward to keep hot tea and food away from the wound, but nothing too problematic. And the wound is healing rapidly, just as the medical staff promised.

The suture will dissolve, but they asked me to visit a nurse at my doctor’s surgery next week to have it taken out–I think mainly so that a nurse can look at the wound and confirm it has healed.

Why have I written this? In case a reader finds themselves having to have a similar procedure and is worried enough to search lip biopsy. I can’t say it was how I would choose to spend half an hour on a Tuesday morning, but it really was uncomplicated and painless. I had mine done at NHS Lothian at Lauriston Buildings.