The difference between Surgical Cyst Removal and Incision and Drainage of Infected Cyst
With regards to cyst treatment, we often hear the terms Surgical Removal and Incision and Drainage. But what do they mean and how do I know which treatment is best for me?
Cyst treatment is curated in accordance with the state of the cyst. In other words, there are different treatments for infected and non-infected cysts. For infected cysts, the treatment is called incision and drainage, and for non-infected cysts, the treatment is surgical cyst removal.
Infected cysts: Incision and Drainage
Cysts located in areas that are prone to friction or minor trauma, are at risk of developing infection. Severe or untreated infections can result in the formation of abscess. Abscess is an infection, characterised as a confined painful collection of pus, surrounded by inflamed tissue.
Infection to a sebaceous cyst is usually due to a bacterial infection. If caught early, a course of antibiotics may be enough to treat the infection, preventing abscess development. However, in most cases, when abscess has developed, an incision and drainage procedure is required.
Incision and drainage procedure is performed to treat abscess of cysts. It is performed under local anaesthetic, where an incision is made over the abscess to release and drain the pus, with minimal scarring. Once drained, the cavity is internally cleaned in attempts to eradicate as much infection as possible.
An incision and drainage procedure can take up to 45 minutes depending on the size and complexity of the cyst. As it is performed under local anaesthetic, you can go home after the procedure and return to your normal activities. It is however advised to keep the wound dry for quick and effective healing.
It is also important to note that, when infected, the skin PH changes and the local anaesthetic does not work as well. Incision and drainage procedures are usually uncomfortable for the patient, hence it is always best to remove the cyst before it gets infected.
In rare cases – typically larger cysts – the now emptied wound is packed to prevent abscess reoccurring and allows for further drainage of infection. However, with smaller cysts, wound packing is not always necessary. Wound packing allows for the wound to heal by secondary intention, which means the wound heals from the inside out.
Non-infected Cysts: Surgical Cyst Removal
Skin cysts can be divided into Sebaceous Cysts and Epidermoid Cysts. Sebaceous cysts are typically filled with sebum, an oily and waxy substance secreted by sebaceous glands functioning to coat and protect the skin. Whereas an Epidermoid cyst is usually filled with a white substance called keratin: a protein involved in skin strength and flexibility.
Sebaceous and Epidermoid cysts have cystic sacs, in which sebum and keratin reside in respectively. Surgical Cyst Removal involves the removal of the entire cystic sac. By removing the sac in whole, the chances of the cyst recurring are low. Incomplete removal of the cyst sac allows for the sac to reform and refill, hence why you should not try to pop your cyst.
Surgical Cyst Removal is also performed under local anaesthetic – duration up to 45 minutes. A small incision is made to the cyst to ensure minimal scarring. Once the entire sac is removed, the small scar is closed using non-dissolvable sutures and covered with a plaster.
Active infections increase the complexity of treatment. Complete surgical removal is not achievable on infected cysts. Instead, incision and drainage is performed. Cysts that are not infected can undergo Surgical Cyst Removal, a quick and simple surgery with minimal scarring.
Surgical Lipoma Removal
Lipomas are fatty lumps, situated between the skin and the muscles. They are susceptible to growth almost anywhere on the body, from the scalp, down to the ankles. Lipomas are very common in the upper body. In some cases, you may even have multiple lipomas. Lipomas are often painless, classified as benign growths, but also have the potential to become painful or bothersome. Lipomas removal and lipoma treatment is performed surgically under local anaesthetic and with minimal scarring.
Is it worth undergoing lipoma treatment?
If your lipoma is small, singular, and painless, you may choose not to have it removed. But a lipoma in an uncomfortable or visible area or multiple lipomas can cause physical and mental discomfort, often impacting on daily life, and affecting your confidence. It is not possible for a lipoma to dissolve by itself, therefore you should not wait for it to disappear on its own. Once a lipoma has developed, lipoma treatment is recommended before they get bigger. It is advised to not let your lipoma reach bigger sizes as a small lipoma can be removed via surgical removal with minimal scarring.
Can I undergo lipoma removal without surgery?
Lipoma treatment is a very common procedure that is used to remove lipomas from the body. Lipomas are non-cancerous growths that are composed of fat cells and connective tissue. They can occur anywhere in the body but most frequently appear in the arms, legs and abdomen. These growths are not typically painful or harmful and do not require treatment unless they grow large enough to interfere with normal functioning or cause physical discomfort.
Complete surgical excision is an effective approach for lipoma treatment. It is often performed under local anaesthetic via a small, minimally invasive incision. The lipoma is gently removed from its position, ensuring it is removed whole where possible. This reduces the possibility of it returning once removed. In cases where a lipoma is large, surgery might be done under general anaesthetic. Larger lipomas mean larger surgical scars. To ensure minimal scarring, it is recommended that lipomas are removed whilst they are relatively small. You can reach our team through our contact page.
Multiple lipoma removal is also done under local anaesthetic. Separate incisions are made to each lump for complete surgical removal. Depending on their proximity, multiple lipomas can be removed from a single incision, if deemed possible.
It is wise to opt for surgical lipoma removal once the lump is visibly detected, in attempts to identify anything unusual. Though rare, lipomas can often be misdiagnosed for liposarcomas: a cancer of fat cells. To exclude liposarcoma, histopathology is performed on the mass once it is surgically removed.
How long does it take for lipoma treatment to heal?
Lipoma treatment is a procedure that can be done in a variety of ways. It may be done with local anesthesia or general anesthesia, and the doctor will choose which method is best for you. The surgery itself takes about half an hour, but you’ll have to plan for two hours of recovery time.
After the lipoma is successfully removed, the incision is closed using sutures and covered with a semi-waterproof plaster. Some sutures are non-dissolvable, these need to be removed after 7-10 days. Whilst the sutures remain, it is important to keep the wound dry and covered, and pause strenuous exercise to ensure the wound heals effectively with a minimal scar appearance. Otherwise, you are able to return to your normal activities and work. Complete lipoma removal recovery ranges from 2-6 weeks.
How painful is lipoma surgery?
Lipoma treatment surgery is a painless procedure. It is performed under local anaesthetic, your awake but feel no pain, whereby the area is entirely numbed allowing for pain-free surgery. Pain after surgery is also minimal.
What can happen if I delay lipoma treatment?
Lipomas that are left untreated will continue to grow. In most cases, lipomas can be surgically removed via surgical excision under local anaesthetic: this is usually when the lipoma is of a small to medium size. However, if the lipoma is very large, it can infiltrate into the muscle and cannot be fully removed under local anaesthetic. Therefore, to avoid great growth and complex surgery, it is always best to have a lipoma removed whilst it is still of small to medium size. Our team is dedicated to the removal of lipomas and have over 10years experience in this field.
Can my GP undertake lipoma removal?
Your NHS GP may recommend leaving your lipoma untreated if it is asymptomatic. Although a small-sized lipoma may not cause discomfort, this is when surgery is best performed. This is because the lipoma is localised superficially to enclosing tissue, meaning it can be removed with minimal scarring. The deeper a lipoma sits in the subcutaneous layer, the greater the surgical intervention. Do not wait, or delay surgery based on a small asymptomatic fatty lump as it can escalate.
Is it a cyst or a lipoma?
Cysts and lipomas are often misdiagnosed for one another, rightfully so as they are both lumps. However, there are a few characteristics that can help you distinguish between a cyst and lipoma.
Cysts are often small, firm lumps, whereas lipomas are typically larger, mobile, and rubbery at touch. Cysts are susceptible to infection, often displaying redness. They can also have a little discharge hole, serving as an escape for pus from active infections. Lipomas cannot get infected; therefore, they remain smooth and skin-coloured.