Soft Tissue Mass Removal: Ganglion Cyst

The 26 Review

  • What is a Ganglion Cyst Removal A procedure to remove a growth on the top of the foot
  • How The mass is removed through a small incision.
  • Why To relieve pain and other symptoms
  • Recommended for Patients not responding to conservative treatments
  • Length of Treatment 30 to 60 minutes
  • Downtime Recovery takes between 3-6 weeks

Let’s take a closer look…

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled, non-cancerous lump that develops in the ankles or feet, generally on the top of the foot. These cysts occur as a result of some type of trauma or irritation. Generally, ganglion cysts occur when fluid accumulates in a joint or around the tendons in the foot. When a ganglion cyst presses on a nerve, it can be painful and depending on the location of the cyst, it can restrict movement. Some cysts do not require treatment, however in certain cases, surgery is necessary. The main symptoms of a ganglion cyst include a loss of mobility, pain, numbness, and tingling sensations. If the cyst is on the foot or ankle, patients may feel discomfort or pain when walking or wearing shoes. Overtime, ganglion cysts can increase or decrease in size, either worsening or bettering symptoms.

Procedure Details: Pre, During & Post Surgery Expectations

After speaking with a podiatrist to discuss all treatment options, if the doctor decides that surgery is the best option, there are a few instructions to follow. Before the surgery, the doctor may draw a line above the cyst to indicate where the incision will be made. Local or general anesthesia will be administered to perform this procedure. That being said, ganglion cyst removal surgery is an outpatient procedure so it is important to create a plan ahead of time for returning home. During the surgery, the doctor will numb the area and cut along the line created with a sterile scalpel. The doctor will then identify the cyst and cut it out, along with its capsule or stalk. Once the cyst has been removed, the doctor will stitch the opening closed to allow the skin to heal. 

After surgery, rest is crucial for the first few days. This will encourage the site of the cyst removal to heal. Try to limit the movement of the foot and ankle to minimize pain and avoid irritation to the removal site. Minimal, nonrepetitive activity is okay after a cyst removal, such as walking or climbing stairs. The doctor may recommend exercises involving stretching the toes, feet, and ankles. Patients can expect to feel some localized pain after surgery, however, that pain can be relieved with numbing medications, OTC medications, or prescription pain medications. Swelling can happen at the removal site and is easily treated with ice. In the rare event of an infection, the doctor will provide an antibiotic post-surgery to prevent any infections from occurring or spreading. It is important to keep any dressings or bandages clean to prevent infection and limit scarring. Once the site has healed, applying lotion to the skin helps the scars heal and keeps the nerves stimulated. 

Benefits and Risk Factors

Removing a severe ganglion cyst can be quite beneficial. Some individuals with a ganglion cyst may never experience any painful symptoms, however, surgical removal can provide relief when a cyst becomes too large. Overall, the main benefit of this procedure is that it removes the source of discomfort, making it easier to function daily. Like any surgery, ganglion cyst removal can cause infection, but with antibiotics, most infections will not pose any issues. Patients can experience an allergic reaction to the anesthesia used or to the stitches used, which is why it is incredibly important to inform your doctor of any known allergies prior to surgery. Other possible risks include sensitivity around the scar tissue, injuries surrounding the tendons, nerves or ligaments, and losing full mobility. In some cases, the ganglion cyst can return after removal. Most patients will heal quickly and without difficulty after a ganglion cyst removal. 

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