Cysts are fluid or semi-fluid filled sacs that may be bothersome or cosmetically undesired. Cysts are common on the skin and can appear anywhere on people of all ages. Cysts can vary in size, and can develop as a result of infection, clogging of sebaceous glands (oil glands), genetic or inherited conditions, or around foreign bodies, such as earrings.
Symptoms of cysts include finding an abnormal lump on the surface or just below the skin. They are closed pockets of tissue that can be filled with fluid, pus or other material. Skin cysts are usually slow-growing, painless and smooth to the touch when they are rolled under the skin. Cysts can appear anywhere, but generally appear on your face, neck, trunk and genital area.
Anyone can get cysts but there are factors that make a person more susceptible than others. These include being past puberty, being male, having a history of acne, having significant sun exposure and experiencing skin injuries.
Cysts can be effectively removed but the treatment protocol for removal depends largely on the location and cause of the cyst. Typically, visible cysts are treated through drainage or surgical removal.
Drainage – In most cases, fluid of the cyst can be drained by inserting needles into the cyst cavity, resulting in collapse of the cyst.
Surgery – If there is a suspicion of cancer, the cyst is generally removed by surgery or a biopsy is performed to rule out malignancy. Cysts that are very large and result in symptoms due to their size may also be candidates for surgical removal.
When a cyst is not visible, that is, when it is organ-centered or located elsewhere deep in the body, the options for treatment include:
Watch and wait – This process involves routine medical imaging of the cyst(s) to monitor their growth.
Biopsy – If there is a suspicion that the cyst is cancerous, a biopsy may be in order, depending on the location of the cyst.
For more information on cysts, or to make an appointment, call a Premier Plastic Surgery & Dermatology office near you. We have locations in Pittsburgh at 412.835.5550 and Wexford at 724.933.1800.