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Dermal Cyst Excision

What is a dermal cyst?

  • A dermal cyst is a sac that grows just underneath your skin. The most common dermal cyst is called an epidermal inclusion cyst (epidermoid cyst). An epidermoid cyst used to be called a sebaceous cyst. These cysts are usually found on your chest, back, neck, or abdomen (stomach). An epidermoid cyst forms into a bump that you can feel and is often painless. Your cyst may be painful if it is infected by germs called bacteria. The cyst may be caused by an injury, a pimple, or an infection.
  • Epidermoid cysts may stay small for years or slowly grow larger. The sac is filled with a substance that usually looks yellow and cheesy. Sometimes this substance may come out of a hole in the cyst. When this happens, it is called a rupture. If your cyst ruptures, it will become inflamed (red and swollen) and may become infected. Dermal cysts are usually benign (not cancer), but may have cancer in them.

What is a dermal cyst excision and why may I need it?

A dermal cyst excision is surgery to remove the cyst from your skin. You may not need an excision unless your cyst is infected, painful, or getting bigger. Your caregiver may remove the cyst to be sure it is not cancer. You may also have the cyst removed if you do not like the way it looks. With dermal cyst excision, your cyst may stop growing and causing pain. Your cyst may be less likely to burst open, get infected, or grow back.

What happens during a dermal cyst excision?

  • Your caregiver makes an incision (cut) into your skin. He may make an oval cut surrounding your cyst. He may also choose to make a cut that is smaller and on top of the cyst. If your caregiver does a punch biopsy, he will use a special tool to cut around the cyst. Your caregiver uses his fingers to push the contents of the cyst out of the hole. He then uses a tool to remove the rest of the sac and its walls. If you are awake, you may feel pressure or pulling while the cyst is being removed. If your cyst is infected, your caregiver drains it first and then may remove the sac another time.
  • Your caregiver may put a drain or gauze cloth in your incision to help remove infection. Drains are thin rubber tubes put into your skin to drain fluid from around your incision. The incision may be closed with stitches or left open to heal. A bandage will be placed over your wound (surgery site) to keep it clean and dry. Your caregiver may send the cyst and nearby tissue to a lab for testing.

What happens after a dermal cyst excision?

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is OK. If you have drains, your caregiver will remove them when the incision stops draining. Your caregiver may ask you to press on your bandage. This may help you from getting bruises. When your caregiver sees that you are OK, you will be allowed to go home.

What are the risks of having a dermal cyst excision?

  • You may feel pain from the surgery. The surgery site may get infected, bruised or leave a scar. A scar may become large and raised. Your surgery site may become infected or inflamed. Your stitches may come apart. Blood may buildup in your wound and you may get bruises. The nerves near your surgery site may be damaged.
  • Even if your cyst is removed, it may grow back. Without treatment, your cyst may become larger. Your cyst may burst open. If your cyst bursts, it may become infected and more painful. If you have cancer, your caregiver may not find it and it may spread to other parts of your body.

When should I call my caregiver?

Call your caregiver if:

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.
  • Your cyst bursts open or begins to leak.
  • Your cyst is red or warmer than the skin near it.
  • You have reddish streaks near your cyst.
  • You have a fever (high body temperature).
  • You have pain that does not go away, even with medicine.
  • You have a new cyst that your caregiver has not seen.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

When should I seek immediate help?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You are dizzy or have fainted.

Where can I find more information?

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:
  • American College of Surgeons
    633 N. Saint Clair St.
    Chicago , IL 606113211
    Phone: 1- 312 - 2025000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 6214111
    Web Address:

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.