When is cyst removal needed?
Cysts often cause no problems, but occasionally they can become painful, infected, or cosmetically embarrassing. In such cases, cyst removal may be the best option.
Are there different types of cysts ?
Yes, cysts can occur in various parts of the body. This article discusses skin cysts, commonly called 'sebaceous cysts' or 'epidermoid cysts'
How is skin cyst removal performed?
Usually, cyst removal can be performed under local anesthetic. The surgeon injects local anesthetic around the cyst, making the skin numb. It may sting a little as the anesthetic is injected. During removal of the cyst, you may feel a little tugging and pulling but should be generally pain-free.
Occasionally, depending on the location and size of the cyst (or if the patient is very young), general anesthetic may be needed for cyst removal.
How long does cyst removal take?
This very much depends on the size of the cyst and the location. Usually, cyst removal takes around 30 minutes.
Is removal the only option for cysts?
If the cyst is not causing any bother at all, then it can be left alone. Sometimes, people can go through life with no problems from their cyst. The cyst can, however, grow larger or can become infected. A cyst can also sometimes 'leak' a thick cheesy paste which is unpleasant. People may therefore choose to have removal of their cyst even if it is not currently causing any problems
Occasionally specialists may aspirate the cyst, whereby a needle is passed into it to suck out the contents. Whilst this may temporarily remove the cyst, it very often recurs.
Cysts can sometimes rupture spontaneously, possibly having been knocked against an object without noticing. The swelling, however, often recurs.
You should carefully discuss the possible options with your specialist before embarking on a treatment plan.
What complications can occur from cyst removal?
Scarring - cyst removal requires the overlying skin to be cut, which will result in a scar. Scars usually fade in time, but can be quite red for the first year. Occasionally, the scar may be more noticeable than the cyst itself.
Infection - a few days after cyst removal, the wound may become red and sore. This could be the signs of a wound infection, which may need antibiotics
Recurrence - it is said that approximately 5% of cysts may return after removal
Pain or numbness - occasionally, a nerve may have been very close to the cyst and could be injured during removal. This could lead to long-term pain and/or numbness in the area
Dips in the skin - this is a common result of cyst removal, and is due to the cyst pushing deeper tissue away from it as it grows. After removal, this dent is still present and so can show when the skin is closed. The surgeon will usually try to reduce this effect for you, but some contour defects can still remain.
Any procedure involving skin incision can also result in unfavourable scarring or bleeding. Other complications can also occur during cyst removal, depending on the size and location of the cyst. This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.
Learn more about choosing a surgeon, skin cysts and cyst removal in our Procedure Info pages. You can also read about a 'real cyst removal experience'
The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer