Decoding the Skin: The Vital Role of Dermatopathology in Diagnosing Skin Disease

Christopher Chu M.D.
April 23, 2023

What happens when my doctor takes a sample of my skin? Why is this important? Learn how a board-certified dermatopathologist is crucial for effective dermatologic care.

What is Dermatopathology?

Dermatopathology is a sub-specialty of dermatology that involves the study of skin diseases at the microscopic level. It is a combination of dermatology and pathology and is performed by a dermatopathologist, a trained physician who specializes in the interpretation of skin biopsies and other skin samples. These specialists work in close collaboration with dermatologists and other healthcare providers to diagnose and manage skin diseases. At Pure Dermatology, Dr. Christopher Chu MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatopathologist and dermatologist, who works closely with each clinician to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis.

How do skin biopsies work?

Skin biopsies are a common procedure used in dermatology clinics to diagnose and manage skin diseases. A skin biopsy involves removing a small piece of skin from the affected area and examining it under a microscope. There are different types of skin biopsies, including punch biopsies, shave biopsies, and excisional biopsies. The sample is then sent to a board-certified dermatopathologist for interpretation. Your board-certified dermatologist at Pure Dermatology will determine the right type of biopsy for you.

Why is Dermatopathology important for accurate diagnoses?

Dermatopathology is vital for excellent dermatologic care because many skin diseases can appear similar on the surface, making it difficult to identify the specific disease without examining the tissue at a microscopic level. A dermatopathologist can help guide accurate diagnoses by examining the tissue and identifying the specific characteristics of the disease. Accurate diagnoses are critical for developing appropriate treatment plans. Different skin diseases require different treatments, and an incorrect diagnosis can result in ineffective or even harmful treatments. Dermatopathologist can help ensure that patients receive the most effective treatment for their specific condition.

Dermatopathology is also important for identifying and managing skin cancers. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and early detection and treatment are critical for improving patient outcomes. A dermatopathologist can examine skin biopsies and other tissue samples to identify the presence of cancer cells and determine the extent of the disease. This information can then be used to develop an appropriate treatment plan, which may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or other treatments.

At Pure Dermatology, board-certified dermatopathologist Christopher Chu MD, FAAD, works closely with his wife, Chelsey Straight MD, FAAD, to ensure that you receive the most accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment for your specific condition. If you are concerned about a skin condition or a skin lesion, come see us at Pure Dermatology.