What is a cyst?
Cysts are abnormal skin lesions that form as lumps or sacs in the body’s bones, organs, or tissues filled with skin cells, bacteria, or pus. Different types of cysts are known to grow dramatically in size the more skin cells are trapped and can form anywhere on the body. Most cysts are benign or non-cancerous, but removal is often the best course of action when it begins to cause pain, discomfort, or infection. They can often become irritated when rubbing or caught on clothing, but it may be a cosmetic concern in some cases.
Common types of cysts
- Dermoid cyst
A dermoid cyst is a non-cancerous sac that individuals are born with but may not notice or see as a bump until later in life. It is often painless, showing up on the face near the eyebrows, the scalp, chest, or around the collarbone, and may contain pus, fluid, a foreign body, or other body tissue types. This cyst requires surgical removal as it does not go away independently.
- Ganglion cyst
This cyst type is a swollen bump that forms on top of a joint or tendon, usually on the hand, but some individuals may find a ganglion cyst on their knees or feet. The cyst can be pretty painful and becomes worse with movement. The cyst may disappear on its own, but if patients find it hinders their quality of life, surgery or other techniques can be used to remove it.
Lipoma is a slow-growing, soft tissue mass that is entirely harmless. It is found on its own or in clusters, usually less than two inches in size around the shoulders, neck, stomach, chest, back, or other areas. It does not usually require surgery unless it is rapidly growing, causing severe discomfort, or hinders your appearance.
- Sebaceous cyst
Also known as an epidermoid or pilar cyst, this type is slow-growing and painless. It can form when the sebaceous glands or ducts are blocked, which are responsible for producing a natural oil called sebum that coats the skin and hair. It can form on the face, neck, chest, stomach, or back and can grow up to four inches in size. Some sebaceous cysts can be painless to extremely reddened and painful. Removal is often recommended if the cyst cannot go away independently.
Benefits of cyst removal
There are numerous advantages for patients who opt to remove a cyst, such as:
- Cyst removal can restore and boost your confidence as it enhances your appearance.
- Once removed, the cyst will not return unless it is a more serious medical condition in which tests can be done to ensure your peace of mind.
- Removal is minimally invasive.
- Improves your quality of life by removing especially painful and restricting cysts.
- Recovery and downtime are minimal, with most patients experiencing little to no scarring.
Cyst removal consultation at Shellharbour Skin
Your cyst is evaluated during your consultation to determine its type and size. An ultrasound or biopsy may be required to assess the cyst’s extent and ensure no cancerous cells are present. You will discuss your medical history, including your current lifestyle and health habits, any previous or current medical conditions you may have, and current medications you are taking. Your doctor will devise a treatment plan using the most effective removal method to give you the safest and best aesthetic result, considering the location, size, type of cyst, and your health.
What to expect
Although not every cyst requires removal, patients should always seek medical advice and removal by a trained medical doctor rather than attempting to remove the cyst themselves. There are several removal methods available, including:
This method involves a tiny incision on the cyst to drain it entirely. It is usually performed under local anaesthetic. It is not recommended for epidermoid or pilar cysts, as this technique will only drain it, meaning there is a chance for the cyst to reoccur. Drainage of the cyst can cause scarring on the surface and deeper tissue skin layers. Patients will be given antibiotics to prevent infection and must keep the wound bandaged for several days.
- Fine-needle aspiration
This technique requires a thin needle insertion into the cyst to drain the fluid and lessen the lump’s visibility. This technique is a standard method of cyst removal and is often used for biopsies to test for cancerous cells in the cyst.
Surgical removal of cysts requires removing the whole sac underneath the skin. After having administered local anaesthetic, a small incision is made over the cyst and the sac is gradually peeled out from under the skin. Stitches are used to close the incision, meaning scarring is possible but every effort is made to lessen its visibility where possible. Ganglion and dermoid cysts are typically removed surgically.
Cost of cyst removal in Illawarra
Costs of a cyst removal largely depends on the type, size, and location of your cyst, which determines the best removal method used, and how many cysts require removal. An initial consultation is always recommended, as this is where your bespoke treatment plan is created and an estimate of costs are provided.
Recovery & aftercare
For stitched wounds, it can take up to 14 days to completely heal. During this time, you will need to avoid strenuous activities and heavy exercise. This includes any heavy lifting or stretching, and any activities that can cause sweat or clothing to rub against the surgical site. Patients may return to work the day after their cyst removal procedure, but for patients in physically demanding jobs, more time to rest may be needed. A splashproof dressing will be applied to allow patients to have showered, but we recommend patients wait for two weeks before going swimming or using saunas and steam rooms.
Risks & complications of cyst removal
With any cosmetic or medical procedure there is always an element of risk or complications associated that could arise, and it is important patients are aware of these. The associated risks and complications of cyst removal can include:
- Nerve damage
- Poor scarring
- Recurrence of cyst
- Poor wound healing
- Allergic complications