Sebaceous cysts are typically harmless, but they can be uncomfortable and are not generally nice to look at. It can be tempting to try and pop them, but this can increase the risk of infection, as well as additional inflammation.
If you have a sebaceous cyst, you may be wondering whether or not to have it surgically removed. Here, you will discover more about these cysts and why surgery is often the best form of treatment.
What is a sebaceous cyst?
Sebaceous cysts are a little misleading. They are not caused by the sebaceous glands (sweat glands). Instead, they are caused by infundibulum cells located above the hair follicles. Some doctors refer to them as epidermoid cysts for this reason.
They tend to occur more on the back, face, neck, or abdomen. When you press against it, the cyst will move under the skin and it may have a small black opening in its centre. If it ruptures, a yellow liquid will leak out and there will be a foul smell caused by a collection of fats and proteins.
While most sebaceous cysts are non-cancerous, they could link to other things such as an ingrown hair, or a boil. For this reason, it is important to have the cyst assessed by a specialist to rule out other potential causes. This is especially true if the cyst is bigger than 5cm in diameter, is infected, or if it grows back quickly after being removed.
There are a number of things that can cause these cysts. Most tend to occur from skin trauma or conditions such as acne.
Can you remove them yourself?
It may be tempting to try and remove a sebaceous cyst yourself. However, doing so is never recommended. This is because these types of cysts have a capsule around them. If this capsule is not removed surgically, the cyst will simply grow back. What’s more, the cell wall actually starts to grow back thicker. This makes a recurring cyst more difficult to remove.
Not only is it difficult to completely remove a cyst by yourself, but it’s also dangerous. The cyst could be attached to nearby nerves. There is also a high likelihood that it will cause an infection. So, having it surgically removed is the best and safest option.
Why is it beneficial to remove a sebaceous cyst surgically?
While there is a chance your sebaceous cyst will disappear on its own, it is unlikely. When left untreated, these cysts tend to grow larger over time. Eventually, they become too large and uncomfortable, requiring them to be removed anyway. Having them surgically removed when they are smaller is a lot easier, and it reduces the likelihood of recurrence.
If you have a sebaceous cyst, book a consultation today to discuss your treatment options. The most common technique used to remove them is the surgical wide excision method. However, there are different techniques if surgical wide excision isn’t suitable.
For more advice, call us on 020 3770 5864 to arrange an appointment at the HCA Lister Hospital (Chelsea Outpatient Centre and Chiswick Medical Centre) or call 020 7808 2785 to book a consultation with Mr Myles Smith at the Royal Marsden Hospital.