Cyst Removal Surgery Sydney

Cyst Removal Surgery in Sydney by Dr Kernohan

  • Experiencing discomfort and pain caused by a cyst?
  • Your cyst just got infected and even more painful?
  • In need of a surgical removal of a sebaceous cyst?

Cyst removal surgery includes the surgical removal of a sebaceous cyst or an epidermoid cyst. Sebaceous and epidermoid cysts are abnormal skin conditions that form a “bump” under your skin. They tend to grow slowly and might even become infected, red, or painful.

Dr. Michael Kernohan is one of the top plastic surgeons in Sydney. He offers a wide variety of minor plastic surgical procedures, including cyst removal surgery, to patients looking for the best cosmetic outcomes possible. Dr Kernohan has five clinic locations in Sydney Southwest and Southern Ranges for your convenience.


What is a Cyst?

A cyst is a contained collection of fluid or fluid-like material in a confined pocket anywhere in the body. You can think of it as a balloon that’s being constantly filled with bodily secretions and growing. This can happen in any body organ or under your skin. Sebaceous and epidermoid cysts are two types of cysts that occur under the skin (cutaneous cysts). 

Although very similar to one another, sebaceous cysts and epidermoid cysts are not exactly the same thing. In any case, cyst removal surgery is the treatment of choice.

Skin cysts can grow anywhere on the body, including the face. Cyst removal can be challenging and requires a highly experienced surgeon to ensure they leave minimal scarring or skin deformity.

Epidermoid cysts vs Sebaceous cysts

Epidermoid cysts and sebaceous cysts are very similar to each other, yet they’re two independent skin conditions.

Epidermoid cysts form when keratin-producing skin cells start sinking into deeper skin layers rather than sloughing off and dying. They then start producing keratin under the skin (the stuff that makes up your nails and hair). As the cyst grows, it starts to form a bump under the skin.

Sebaceous cysts are formed when the ducts of sebaceous glands are blocked due to trauma or debris. Sebaceous glands are microscopic glands located near hair follicles. They produce a wax-like secretion called sebum. When the outgoing ducts are blocked, sebum starts to collect in a closed pocket, forming a sebaceous cyst.

Both sebaceous and epidermoid cysts eventually have the same appearance – a bump under the skin. Surgeons will very likely not be able to tell the difference and type of cyst based on looks alone. Nevertheless, cyst removal surgery is the treatment of choice in both cases.

Dr. Kernohan, being a plastic surgeon, deals with cysts that form in the skin, and more specifically in visible areas (like the face, hands, and arms). These areas are highly sensitive, and only a plastic surgeon can handle them without leaving a visible scar or causing any unwanted deformities.


What happens to an untreated sebaceous or epidermal cyst?

Skin cysts can sometimes grow without causing any symptoms – except for the bump under your skin. However, in many cases, cyst complications might develop:

Infection: If a cyst gets infected it will become red and you might experience pain, fever, and swelling. A course of antibiotics followed by cyst removal procedure is usually the therapy of choice in cases of cyst bacterial infections.

Pain: Sometimes cysts can grow and push on the surrounding tissue, causing pain and discomfort. This is a clear indication for sebaceous cyst removal surgery.

Rupture: If a cyst grows enough or is subject to trauma, it can rupture through your skin, letting its contents out. Thorough cleaning of the debris and proper dressing is essential to prevent infection if an epidermoid cyst ruptures.

Skin cancer: epidermoid cysts can in rare cases turn into squamous cell carcinoma – a common type of skin cancer.


When should you have a cyst removed?

Do you need to remove any sebaceous cyst or epidermoid cyst? The short answer is no. Not every cyst “needs” to be removed. The reasons why you might want cyst removal surgery include:

  • Cyst with signs of infection (redness, fever, swelling, pain)
  • Cosmetic concerns (e.g. cyst growing on face)
  • Cyst pain
  • Noticeable change in shape or size (a possible sign of skin cancer)

Surgical excision of epidermoid cyst is indicated if you have any of the above-mentioned concerns. There are several cutaneous cyst removal techniques that your surgeon might attempt depending on the type of cyst you have.

How is a skin cyst treated?

As mentioned above, there are several treatment options for a sebaceous cyst or an epidermoid cyst. Surgical and non-surgical treatment options can both be effective to get rid of a skin cyst.

Home remedy for a Cyst

If you don’t want cyst removal surgery, you can try one of the following methods to treat epidermoid and sebaceous cysts naturally:

  • Don’t pop the cyst: You’ve probably heard this a million times before, but we’ll do you one more. You should never pop a cyst yourself at home. There’s a high risk that it might get infected, and a larger more inflamed cyst would form. This makes cyst removal without scarring impossible.
  • Warm compress: Warm compresses are an excellent home remedy for sebaceous cysts and epidermoid cysts. They improve blood supply and reduce inflammation in and around the cyst. Improved blood circulation can also reduce the risk of infection.
  • Natural cyst remedies: You could use honey, vinegar, castor oil, or aloe vera on a cutaneous cyst. These natural treatments have anti-inflammatory properties and might help cysts heal without the need for cyst removal surgery.

Medical Treatment for a Cyst

There are no specific medications that treat epidermal and sebaceous cysts. Your doctor or surgeon might prescribe antibiotics to treat an infected cyst. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications might help control the symptoms. The ultimate treatment is cyst removal surgery.

Cyst Removal Surgery by Dr Kernohan

Surgery to remove sebaceous cysts and epidermoid cysts is the treatment of choice for these conditions. The surgical technique is chosen by Dr. Kernohan usually depends on the size, shape, and type of cyst:

  • Incision and drainage: This is a minimal surgical procedure to treat skin cysts. Dr. Kernohan will first numb the skin around the cyst. Then, using a blade, he will make an X-shaped incision through the skin over the cyst. He will then squeeze the cyst content out and then flush the cyst with sterile saline. Sometimes, if the residual cyst cavity is big, Dr. Kernohan might insert a drain for a few days to prevent fluid from collecting.
  • Cyst excision: This means the complete removal of a sebaceous or an epidermal cyst. Dr. Kernohan will remove the entire cyst, including the cyst content and cyst wall. The cyst wall is a thick layer of tissue that encapsulates chronic cysts. Complete surgical removal of a cutaneous cyst has a lower recurrence rate compared to simple incision and drainage. Dr. Kernohan uses a minimal excision technique and always aims for minimal scarring and skin deformity after cyst removal.
  • Wide excision: A wide cyst excision is a type of cyst removal surgery that Dr. Kernohan performs for suspicious cysts. He will widen the excision margin by a few millimeters in each direction to make sure all and any cyst-related cells are removed. This is sometimes also referred to as a biopsy excision since the tissue is sent to the laboratory to check for malignancy.

After cyst excision, the skin might be completely or partially closed, depending on the size, location, and shape of your cyst. Smaller cysts and cysts located in visible areas (like the face) are preferentially closed to achieve the best cosmetic outcome possible (minimal scarring).

How to prepare yourself for cyst removal surgery

Your First Appointment

First, Dr. Kernohan will have to inspect the skin lesion and make a diagnosis. Diagnosis of epidermoid or sebaceous cysts is usually done through inspection and physical examination alone, without the need for other diagnostic tests. Dr. Kernohan might remove the cyst in his office, or might schedule you for a later date.

Procedure Day

Both cyst excision and cyst incision and drainage are one-day procedures. This means that you will not have to stay at the hospital after cyst removal. Depending on the type of anesthesia you will get, Dr. Kernohan will instruct you on whether you need to stop eating or drinking the night before your surgery. The type of anesthesia for cyst removal is determined by the size and location of the cyst. In most cases, local anesthesia does the job.

If you take any blood thinners, Dr. Kernohan will instruct you on how early before cyst removal surgery you need to stop.

Make sure you mention any allergies, medical conditions, or concerns before the procedure. You should also bring along any relevant medical or radiological tests.

Having a chaperon might be necessary if you are planned to receive any kind of sedatives before surgery. A family member or a friend will have to drive you home after the cyst removal procedure.


Recovery after cyst removal

Recovery after removing sebaceous or epidermal cysts is usually straightforward and not a cause of concern. Complete recovery should take 3-4 weeks, however, you can get back to your daily routines as early as the next day after surgery.

This, of course, all depends on the location of the treated cyst and its size. All cysts usually take a full month to fully heal and close. Larger cysts and chronic cysts might take longer to heal, especially if a drain is left in for an extended time.

If your cyst is located in your torso or legs, you should stay away from sports for at least a couple of weeks to avoid trauma and allow the tissue to heal.

You can usually go to work 1-2 days after your cyst removal surgery.


What are the risks & complications of sebaceous cyst removal surgery?

Sebaceous cysts can be removed by a variety of methods, including surgical excision and laser therapy. The most common complication is infection, which may occur in as many as 20 percent of patients after surgery. Other possible side effects include scarring, bleeding or bruising, pain and swelling at the site of the procedure, and formation of new cysts. Find out more details in Dr Kernohan’s page risks of plastic surgery.


How much is Cyst Removal Surgery by Dr Kernohan?

Every patient is different and will require different treatment and procedure. To get an estimated quote for your particular surgery please contact Dr Kernohan’s team on 1300 39 38 99 or flll in the contact form. Please visit Dr Kernohan’s Surgery pricing page for more information.

How do you find the best Cyst Removal Surgeon in Sydney?

  • Always choose a FRACS qualified surgeon not an undertrained doctor or so called cosmetic surgeon. Ask your GP for a referral to a plastic surgeon.

FAQs about Cyst Removal

Can I remove a sebaceous or epidermoid cyst myself?

  • No. Sebaceous cysts need to be removed by a healthcare professional (plastic surgeon or dermatologist). Popping a sebaceous cyst at home can lead to infection and most probably recurrence shortly after. Cyst removal surgery is a minor surgery that drains all the cyst content, outer layer, and capsule to prevent infection and recurrence.

Can you squeeze out a sebaceous or epidermoid cyst?

  • Yes, you can squeeze the cyst contents out, however, it is not recommended that you do that yourself. You should seek medical assistance to pop a sebaceous cyst.

How is a sebaceous or epidermoid cyst removed?

  • A sebaceous cyst can be removed by complete surgical excision or by puncturing the cyst and draining it (incision and drainage). Full surgical cyst removal has a lower recurrence rate and is usually the treatment of choice in chronic capsulated cysts.

Can I stick a needle in a cyst?

  • No. Sticking a needle in a cyst might let out some of the content and relieve some pressure, but the small puncture will soon close, and the cyst will not go away. Moreover, puncturing the cyst at home could introduce bacteria into the cyst, leading to an infected cyst.

How do you dissolve a cyst naturally?

  • Warm compresses, castor oil, vinegar, and aloe vera are some natural ways to treat a skin cyst. Most of these would reduce inflammation, but are unlikely to completely heal the cyst.

What is the white stuff that comes out of a cyst?

  • This can be sebum, keratin, pus, dead cells, or a mixture of all together. The whitish or yellowish cyst contents depend on the type of cyst and whether it is infected or not.

Is an infected sebaceous cyst an emergency?

  • In most patients, it is not an emergency, unless you are immunocompromised or have other serious medical conditions. Otherwise, an infected skin cyst is not an absolute emergency, but you should seek medical help without delay. Bacteria can spread from the cyst to your blood and in some instances lead to sepsis (blood poisoning)

What kind of doctor removes a sebaceous cyst?

  • A plastic surgeon is the best physician to remove a sebaceous or epidermal cyst. Plastic surgeons consider cosmetic outcomes and are skilled in specific cosmetic techniques that insure minimal scarring after cyst removal surgery.

How big does a cyst have to be to remove?

  • There is no minimum size limit to when a cyst needs to be removed. In general, if a cyst is causing discomfort or cosmetic concerns, it can be removed, regardless of its size.

Can you get rid of a cyst without surgery?

  • There are several non-surgical ways to reduce swelling and inflammation around sebaceous cysts. A cyst might eventually go away on its own, however, surgery is the most effective and quick way to cure sebaceous and epidermal cysts.

Further Reading about Cyst Removal

Dr Michael Kernohan - Best plastic Surgeon Sydney NSW

Dr Michael Kernohan – Specialist Plastic Surgeon in Sydney NSW

Dr Michael Kernohan is a Sydney Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon providing a wide range of services from skin cancer to cosmetic surgery for the face, nose, breast and body.

He also offers complex reconstructive procedures following trauma and a range of cancer treatments using the most innovative and up-to-date treatment options.

Dr Kernohan is able to care for both public and private patients and currently has appointments in five Sydney hospitals and has an additional leadership role as Director of Surgical Specialities.

His main clinic is located in Campbelltown and he has 4 other locations – Bowral, Liverpool, Surry Hills (city) and Gregory Hills opening in late May – servicing patients in Sydney Southwest and Southern Highlands.

Please call on 1300 39 38 99 or Contact us