Dr. Hina Altaf Dermatologist

Cyst and Lipoma Removal

Cyst and Lipoma Removal

It can be a huge relief to find out that the abnormal lump beneath your skin is a benign growth rather than a cancerous tumor. Being diagnosed with a harmless cyst or lipoma may be a bit of welcome news, but it may also leave you wondering: what are these growths, exactly, and what can you do about them?

Lipoma vs. Cyst: How to Spot the Difference

A lipoma is a benign overgrowth of fat under the skin. Lipomas are usually quite soft and can occasionally cause pressure problems, but rarely get infected. Occasionally lipomas can become painful and may need to be removed. Lipomas can appear virtually anywhere on your body, but they emerge most often along the shoulders, neck, forehead, back, abdomen, arms, or thighs. Unlike cancerous tumors, they develop very slowly and tend to remain relatively small; most lipomas measure less than two inches in diameter.

Skin cysts (known as epidermoid cysts) are essentially an invagination of skin, that keeps shedding the outer layers of skin within a closed capsule. This eventually gets bigger and bigger and can become inflamed and painful. Epidermoid (skin) cysts and pilar (hair follicle) cysts are the most common types. While skin and hair follicle cysts can appear anywhere, they tend to form on the face, neck, and torso. Pilonidal cysts, which are also relatively common, emerge at the top cleft of the buttocks.  Sebaceous cysts are rarer than skin cysts and more common in acne sufferers. The grease glands become blocked and the grease gradually fills up as a collection, which makes sebaceous cysts much harder to treat.

At the early stages of a cyst and lipoma, they can feel quite similar. As cysts grow, they generally feel like an egg or rubber under the skin, they often have little drainage holes where white cheesy material can be seen discharging. Lipomas are usually a bit deeper in the skin and are usually soft and squeezy, and feel like they can be moved slightly under the skin.

Both are entirely benign and have a negligible risk of developing cancer, however occasionally these lumps are misdiagnosed and some rare cancers can present as a lump under the skin that may resemble a lipoma or cyst, so it is always best to get an expert medical opinion.

Lipoma Removal 

Surgical removal is an ideal treatment solution for lipomas that are:

  • Uncomfortable, tender, or painful
  • Noticeable or difficult to conceal
  • Easily irritated by clothing or activity
  • Gradually growing larger over time
  • In an unusual spot (palm of the hand)

To remove an uncomplicated lipoma, your doctor will numb the area, make a small incision, and gently squeeze out the lipoma capsule.

Cyst removal

Surgical removal may be the best option for cysts that are:

  • Growing rapidly or causing discomfort
  • Easily irritated by clothing or activity
  • Susceptible to infection or rupture
  • Prominent, unattractive, or hard to hide
  • In a disruptive location (between toes)


A cyst that’s infected (sore, swollen, red, or oozing foul-smelling pus) or ruptured requires prompt medical attention. Complete surgical removal is only an option once inflammation is under control and the infection has cleared which could be anywhere between 3-6 weeks. Your doctor will take out the entire cyst wall. This usually keeps them from coming back.

Both procedures are done under local anesthesia. The doctor will close the incision with stitches and provide you with post-care instructions. Depending on the size of the cyst or lipoma, scarring will be visible.

Minimal Downtime

You can return to your daily routine immediately after

Immediate Results

Results within 24 to 48 hours, with full results in 30 days

Painless Procedure

Brief period of discomfort during the injection, similar to a pinch

Results That Last

Effects typically last for several months

A cyst is a sac-like structure that forms beneath the skin, filled with fluid, pus, or other materials. It typically feels like a lump and can vary in size. A lipoma, on the other hand, is a non-cancerous growth of fatty tissue that forms just beneath the skin. Lipomas are usually soft, movable, and painless.
Cysts and lipomas are usually harmless, but they may cause discomfort, become infected, or affect your appearance. In such cases, removal may be recommended. Additionally, if a cyst or lipoma grows rapidly, is located in a sensitive area, or causes significant physical or emotional distress, removal may be considered.
Cyst and lipoma removal is typically performed through a minor surgical procedure. The area is numbed with a local anesthetic, and the surgeon makes a small incision to remove the cyst or lipoma. In some cases, larger or deeper cysts or lipomas may require a more extensive surgical approach.
Recovery after cyst and lipoma removal is usually straightforward. The incision site may be covered with a sterile dressing, and you may be advised to keep the area clean and avoid strenuous activities for a few days. Pain medication may be prescribed if necessary. The stitches, if used, are typically removed within a week or two.
Cyst and lipoma removal is generally a safe procedure, but like any surgery, there are potential risks and complications. These can include infection, bleeding, scarring, damage to surrounding tissues, and recurrence of the cyst or lipoma. It's important to follow your surgeon's instructions for proper wound care and report any unusual symptoms or concerns promptly.

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Dr. Hinah Altaf’s clinic is currently at Gargash Hospital, 145 Umm Suqeim Street – Umm Al Sheif -Dubai.