Cysts are balloon-like structures in the skin filled with solid or fluid material. They most often contain sebaceous material, the oily substance that would normally be present on the surface of the skin for normal lubrication. Cysts can occur anywhere on the body, although the face, neck, back and area behind the ears are the most common sites. They develop as an infection, often from a swollen hair follicle, and require treatment to prevent them from enlarging or becoming cancerous.
Cysts can range in size from tiny to huge. Small cysts can easily be expressed within seconds with a comedone or cyst expresser. Larger cysts may need a longer period of time to be spent on surgical removal. Cysts may stay in the skin for years, but they may also increase in size or rupture, which causes them to become tender, red and infected. Such cysts need drainage and may also require an oral antibiotic.
Cyst removal is typically done through surgical excision. A small incision is made in the area of the cyst and then the cyst and surrounding tissue will be removed to ensure complete excision. A local anesthetic is used for this procedure. Most cysts do not return when thoroughly removed. Some patients are left with a small scar after a cyst is removed, which can be further treated with a reconstructive treatment, although most scars will fade over time.