December 24, 2010 9:38 AM   Subscribe

What is this thing on my inner lower lip?

Right in front of my lower incisors on the inside of my lower lip (not the LIP lip part, the part where one would put skoal or something) (I don't dip) there is a little complex of clear bubble-type things under the skin. Every few months or so, it swells up with blood for about a day, and then pops or tears or something and bleeds into my mouth for an hour or so.

My doctor didn't know what it was, my dentist looked at it and told me to ask my doctor to refer me, my doctor referred me and now I'm looking at a multi-month wait to see a specialist. I've had this thing for about 6 years now but it ain't going away, if anything I think it gets a little bigger every time it fills/bursts. Anybody have any clue what it is?

Will provide pics if needed.
posted by tehloki to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Best answer: Mucoceles?
posted by Andrhia at 9:40 AM on December 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Probably a mucocele.

Small medical-anomaly world. I've had one on my lower lip for about a week, and ended up staying up till 1 am last night internet researching before coming to the conclusion that it has to be a mucocele. From what I read, some people eliminate them with frequent hydrogen peroxide rinses, but usually they have to be surgically removed (a 15-minute, in-office procedure. There are some really fascinating/gross videos online) because the inflamed salivary gland will keep refilling them unless you have the gland removed.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:45 AM on December 24, 2010

Response by poster: If it's mucoceles then there's about 20 of them that have organized into a single bump... I have "regular" mucoceles that are tiny and fit the description in that link, but this thing is kind of different from most of the pictures I'm seeing on google.
posted by tehloki at 9:57 AM on December 24, 2010

Response by poster: I have taken a picture
posted by tehloki at 10:12 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Based on last night's extensive googling, I really think that's probably another mucocele. They can fill with blood if you accidentally bite them, and the other ones you have are teeny tiny, relatively.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

First of all that is a seriously lovely picture of a very hard to photograph area, so kudos.

I think that whatever it is, it probably started off life as a mucocele or a whole series of them. If it's not getting bigger over time, it's probably benign. IANAD.

When I met my husband, he had a complex mucocele thing that was about the size of a pea and fully 7/8ths of a sphere -- it wasn't just a bubble, it pinched back in at the bottom before it connected to his lip, and it was meat inside, not just fluid. He had it removed in an outpatient procedure and the pathology said it was a mucocele. It never returned.
posted by KathrynT at 10:30 AM on December 24, 2010

It looks and sounds like a mucocele to me.

A mucocele is a damaged salivary gland. Lancing, biting, or otherwise draining a mucocele just temporarily relieves the annoyance of the pressure and foreign-objectness. But a mucocele is like a balloon, where damaging it just stretches it out more. It feels better, but doesn't fix the damaged salivary gland, so that it refills, over and over again.

I've had (what I assume were) small mucoceles, like those in your picture, that disappeared when bitten off. But I've also had two large mucoceles (confirmed by a pathology lab) that looked just like the one in your picture that stayed in my mouth for a year each, draining and refilling, until annoyance drove me to oral surgeons to have them surgically removed (which is the only option for the big ones that won't go away). 6 months is an absurd wait time, though. Maybe call around to other oral surgeons?
posted by J-Train at 11:08 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

It looks exactly like what I had a few years ago. I went to my doctor and he said it was a mucocele, aka damaged salivary gland. He said it might go away on its own, or it might keep coming back again and again. He offered to remove it for me right then but I was a big chicken said no thanks. I went home, chomped it off with my teeth (probably way more painful and damaging than what the doctor would have done) sucked out the blood and fluid, and waited. The son of a bee came back within a few days and I promptly chomped it off again. Repeat. After the third time time, it stayed gone and has not bothered me since.

Don't do what I did. I highly recommend seeing your doctor to have it surgically removed the first time around.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:39 AM on December 24, 2010

Until you see your doctor, hydrogen peroxide rinses and over-the-counter numbing ointment (Anbesol or similar) should give you some relief from pain and discomfort.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:56 AM on December 24, 2010

Best answer: I've had big ones, small ones, probably 20 in total appearing at various times. With my first one, I went to an ENT who removed it and stitched it up in his office only to have it reappear soon after. His advice to rinse with salt water to keep the wound clean ended up getting rid of the second one, when it was in its burst state. So I didn't end up needing surgery again.

Since then any time I accidentally bite down hard on the inside of my mouth another one will appear. I then rinse with salt water using table salt (sea salt doesn't dissolve as well) and the next day it's gone. Sometimes with bigger ones I've had to do it more repeatedly. It only works by sealing up the wound before the bubble has a chance to reappear.

This board dedicated to the topic might have other useful advice, but ignore those who tell you to cut it out yourself.
posted by waterandrock at 12:29 PM on December 24, 2010

I had one of these and, of course, thought I was dying of mouth cancer (I smoked for like 25 years). I was so relieved it was a mucocele. My doc gave me Zilactin, which dries out the area (I mean REALLY dries - makes the area you put it on all wrinkly and weird, it's kind of cool.)

I'm not quite sure the actual purpose of the Zilactin, but mine went away pretty quickly after I used it.
posted by tristeza at 2:20 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

The larger part looks a lot like a mucocele I had for ~2-3 years (that was eventually absorbed into my lip and hasn't reappeared for a couple years but is still findable via palpation).

The two smaller ones look like cold sores I get, but they're generally painful (unlike mucoceles).
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:05 PM on December 24, 2010

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