How much pain after a cyst removal?
July 13, 2007 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm having a sebaceous cyst removed from my back and I'd like to know how much discomfort I'm going to be in afterwards, and if I'll be able to (or want to) go back to work for the rest of the day.

My doc referred me to a surgeon to have a sebaceous cyst about 1.5 inches in diameter removed from my back, between my shoulder blades.

He said it would be a fairly quick and simple in-office procedure, but he didn't say how much discomfort I would be in afterwards. Do you think I'll be able to go back to my job afterwards, or should I make arrangements to have someone fill in for me?

Most of the time I sit at a desk, and I have a pretty high pain threshold.
posted by 14580 to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
I had one removed about six years ago in the same spot and went back to work the same day, no problem.
Looked like a big ol' meatball.
posted by Floydd at 12:22 PM on July 13, 2007

I think it's enough to get an excuse not to go back and thats all that matters.
posted by brinkzilla at 12:23 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had one removed from my leg. I was put in a groggy couple of hours later that day out of sheer boredom.

When I went in a week later for a checkup, the doctor asked me if I'd been able to return to work yet. What??! Wish I'd known that I could have begged off a week for that little thing. :)
posted by unixrat at 12:31 PM on July 13, 2007

I had the same thing done about a month ago. The most painful part of it was the anaesthetic injection, which was only a tiny prick.

I went back to work that afternoon, and once the site stopped oozing and I took off the band-aid the next day, I never noticed it again.
posted by AngerBoy at 12:31 PM on July 13, 2007

Take some Motrin or tylenol about 30 minutes before you plan to have the procedure done, and take it afterwards as needed. You should also do this before you go in to have the wick and dressing changed, as there won't be any lidocaine injection for that, and it can be painful. You should definitely be able to work that day if you spend most of it at a desk, but you could also get a note excusing you for the day.
posted by tuff at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2007

I had the same thing done some years ago (roughly the same spot too). Did it on my lunch hour and went back to work. Mine was probably smaller, but it was in deep.

The worst parts in my case: 1) the doctor was very parsimonious with the painkiller injection, so I pretty much felt the whole procedure (more weird than painful); 2) I was lying with my hands under my chin when the doctor applied a pressure bandage. This pulled my shoulderblade back for the next 24 hours (after which I could have it removed), which left me with a wicked cramp in my shoulder.
posted by adamrice at 12:52 PM on July 13, 2007

Will you be getting any kind of sedation? That should enter into the equation. Basically imagine getting stitches for a 1.5 inch cut; if you would go back to work under those conditions you would be okay to go back for this. Also be aware that your surgeon may get behind schedule (many of the ones I work with are notorious for this, but others are equally well-known for never going over on time) so you may want to go ahead and arrange coverage based on that possibility.
posted by TedW at 1:48 PM on July 13, 2007

You don't need sedation. I removed one of these (with attending supervision) on my very first month as a medical student in general surgery clinic.

1) Clean area.
2) Numb skin and area around cyst. (This feels like a bee sting.)
3) Make incision. (This should not hurt, you should be numbed up.)
4) Dissect out the tissue, find the sebaceous gland and remove it.
5) Make sure there's no active bleeding.
6) Close the incision with some sutures.

Usually takes 10 minutes if it's a pretty normal cyst.

Ask your doctor, but likely NSAIDs are fine for pain control.

You could probably go back to work, but you could take the afternoon off too. Either way.

(I am not your doctor, I am not a doctor, you are not my patient, this is not medical advice.)
posted by gramcracker at 2:05 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I felt crappy for a few days after I had mine removed, but that probably had more to do with being under general anesthetic for the procedure. I f you're getting this with a local on an outpatient basis you should be fine.

(A general may sound like overkill for simple cysts, but I had mine in some fairly sensitive areas: one on the cheek, a big one on the neck, and a bunch behind my ears.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:37 PM on July 13, 2007

I had a cyst removed from between my shoulder blades. It was enormous and the resulting sew-up made me very uncomfortable (I metabolize anesthetics fairly quickly, you might not feel it as quickly as I did). I also had trouble turning my head due to the tight skin. I took the afternoon off, which was a good idea. I should have brought someone with me to drive, since not being able to turn my head made driving dangerous.

In short, don't go alone and take the rest of the day off.
posted by tommasz at 5:57 PM on July 13, 2007

What's with the rush to go back to work? Seriously, if you have sick leave, take the day. Even if you don't you should consider it. Here's the deal: if all goes well, ya, you can go back. But you don't know how it will go. Furthermore, if you get back into the swing of work, and forget to be careful with the wound, you could irritate it without knowing until later. That can cause a longer recovery time than if you would have taken it easy for at least a day to start with.

Stock up on comfort food, and put fresh batteries in the remote. Orders from Dr. Deej.
posted by The Deej at 7:02 PM on July 13, 2007

I went to the doctor to have a cyst removed. It was a big old lump on the top of my head, and was noticable. Plus, it was irritating my wife, so it had to go.

When I got to the place, the dermatologist had a student in the suite with her. I don't usually mind this, and it was hardly a difficult procedure (given a scalpel and a mirror, I probably could've followed her directions and done it myself). They hit me with lidocaine and told me that they didn't have to shave my head, which as a relief.

Anyway, skater boy / student doctor guy was cutting away on my scalp and the teacher lady said: "OK, now we're in. See that sac? Don't pierce it."

"EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" said skater doc. He had accidently pierced the sac and smelly fat came out.

"DON'T SAY EWWW IN FRONT OF A PATIENT!" scolded teacher doc.

"OK, sorry." I couldn't see any of this, but had a hard time not giggling even though they were cutting my head open.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:34 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Warning, don't take any meds prior to your procedure without your doctor's knowledge and approval.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:05 PM on July 14, 2007

DON'T SAY EWWW IN FRONT OF A PATIENT!" scolded teacher doc.

I had a similar thing happen when I took the treadmill stress test test at my doc's a year ago. I felt like I was doing great. Not too winded, not too tired. But at several points during the test, the doc and the nurse pointed at the readout and mumbled among themselves with concerned looks. After the test: "Everything looks fine!"

I did ask what all the pointing was about. I do have arrhythmia, but they said it was not anything to worry about, and it actually went away at higher heart rates. Like gunning an old engine I guess. :)
posted by The Deej at 6:30 AM on July 15, 2007

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