Excision of sebaceous cyst

Surgical excision involves the removal of the cyst contents and the sac, thus preventing the cyst from returning

What is a Sebaceous Cyst?

Sebaceous cysts are sacs just under the skin that are filled with an oily substance called sebum. They appear dome shaped with a smooth surface and can look either white or the same colour as the skin. There is no known cause for these cysts and no known way to prevent them forming. They can vary in size, typically between 1 and 5 centimetres across. They mostly occur on the scalp, chest, back and genitalia.

Is it harmful?

The cysts are essentially harmless. However, they can become infected and painful, especially if they are constantly irritated by clothes or hairbrushes.

What treatment options are available to treat sebaceous cysts?

Often, the cysts are small and do not require any treatment at all. They may disappear by themselves. However, if the cyst is large or infected, the treatment options are:

  1. Antibiotics can help to resolve an infected cyst. This does not remove the cyst itself.

  2. Surgical drainage of the cyst is performed under local anaesthetic. A small incision is made in the top of the cyst and the cyst contents are removed. It does not involve removing the sac itself, so the cyst often comes back.

  3. Surgical excision involves the removal of the cyst contents and the sac, thus preventing the cyst from returning. This procedure is performed under local anaesthetic.

What are the potential risks and complications of this operation?

  • Bleeding – Your wound may bleed a little after the operation. If this occurs, place a clean cotton handkerchief or cloth over the area and apply constant pressure for approximately 10-15 minutes.

  • Infection – Your wound may become infected. If your wound becomes swollen, very red, very tender or starts producing a cloudy discharge, see your GP who may prescribe you antibiotics.

  • Scarring – Any surgery will result in a scar. In most cases, the scar will appear pink to start with and then eventually virtually disappear. However, sometimes the scar may remain visible. It may look a different colour from the surrounding skin or be raised above the surface of the skin. Rarely, the scar may feel numb or even be painful.

  • Recurrence – There is a risk that the cyst sac may not be completely removed, which can result in the cyst returning.

What happens after my operation?

Your wound will be stitched and covered with a protective dressing. The stitches may require removal in 5, 7 or 10 days time.

Keep your wound clean and dry until your stitches have been removed, or advised by Dr Evans.

Will it hurt?

The operation is performed under local anaesthetic and therefore painless. The area will remain numb for a few hours afterwards. However, once the local anaesthetic has worn off, the wound may feel tender and sore for a few days. Take your normal painkillers regularly to keep yourself comfortable. 

General advice

  • Driving – There are no driving restrictions if you have had a local anaesthetic.

  • Activities – Avoid contact sports or any activities that may pull on your stitches.

Excision of Sebaceous Cysts

Excision of a sebaceous cyst is a common procedure carried out in plastic and general surgical departments and in general practice. The cyst should be excised completely in order to avoid recurrence.

After consultation Dr Evans will carry out the excision at Avenue MediSpa.