Sign Up
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Inject Local Anesthetic
  • 3. Incision
  • 4. Excision of Cyst
  • 5. Closure
jkl keys enabled
Keyboard Shortcuts:
J - Slow down playback
K - Pause
L - Accelerate playback

Excision of Epidermal Inclusion Cyst


John Grove1; Marcus Lester R. Suntay, MD, FPCS, FPSPS, FPALES2
1Lincoln Memorial University – DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
2Philippine Children's Medical Center



This is a 64-year-old male with a mass, which had been growing for a couple of months now. These are normally what we do in surgical missions. The small lumps and bumps. But we, we would want always to get it at an early, at an early time, rather than it gets bigger, and it gets infected. So this is a small mass, this is what they call an epidermal inclusion cyst. A simple cyst, which forms because of an obstruction, an obstruction here in the hair follicles. So since the gland normally secretes oils and some sweat, if it gets clogged by dirt, so the - the oils get accumulated inside, and then they become a cyst like this. So, this could normally get infected, it also could cause some pain, if it gets a little bigger. We'll be doing the surgery now, we've already prepped the patient, cleaned the area, and put a sterile dressing over it, as to avoid contamination.


I'll be injecting now 2% Xylocaine, which is a local anesthetic, which should numb out the area in a couple of seconds. So what's important when you do the incision is you plan out where you're going to incise, and that's where you'll be infiltrating the Lidocaine I normally check the location - to be able to check the anatomy if there are any structures here underneath, which are dangerous in this area, no significant blood supply would be really near the area. Nice to find out the muscles here, muscles go down this way- and also muscles this way. But I also follow the, what they call the line of Langer, which is this way, as compared to going down. So my incision would be a transverse incision from here to here, I'll probably take it this way. So I'll start injecting now. So, best to aspirate, just to check that you're not intravascular, then you start injecting slowly. And then go around it. I try to stay above- just to the skin area, you can see, it went through that small hole there, which is where it starts, there. We're going to go a little further there. If you see it come out, that means you're inside the cyst, so I just pulled it back a bit, and you can - a little lateral to the cyst. There, you can see blanching of the skin. And I'll go around it. So where I finished off the last infiltration - I just go a little more. So, there's - I don't see any Lidocaine coming out of the - of this hole, so I'm definitely - I'm not, I'm not inside the cyst. And I went already on top, I'll go down. So I aspirate again, just in case. Infiltrating a little more. I just asked him if he was okay, he's feeling okay. He should normally just feel a sting, but some patients get dizzy. So I already injected - I infiltrated above, skin level, and maybe some subcutaneous tissue. I would want to go a little deeper here. Just to be able to block the bed. One last one here. Aspirate. It should be good. I wait for a few minutes, for the anesthetic to take full effect before I start my incision. Other surgeons use a combination of Lidocaine and epinephrine, you could use that too if you want, just to minimize the bleeding. I normally use that for the face and some other areas, which are more vascular, but for this area, I think we should be okay. So it's important if you ask - you ask the patient if he does feel that the area would be, would be numbed. Okay, so I asked him if he felt - if there was still any, any pain, or if he felt a little numb already. He said he feels - it's a little numb. I told him to just tell me if he feels any pain, I could inject more anesthesia if he does need.


So, I'll start. I normally do an elliptical incision, just to cover this hole here. So I'll start down here. As I mentioned, I'll do it transverse. I made the incision underneath. And one other incision above. And you see it, you see the lighting there. So you can see the incision for this, and then we're going to close it this way. You should make it a little deeper, lower in the skin.


I normally want to get the corner first. So, I release the corner. Because if I release it in the corner, as compared to releasing it here in the middle part, you might puncture the cyst. It's important to get the whole cyst wall, or if you don't, you'd have recurrence. So if you start off here in the - on the corner, which as you can see, a while ago, in the, the cyst formation, it seems like this is already going to be a normal, normal tissue. You can grab onto the side of the cyst here, just to pull it - retraction. I'll have my assistant here - pull this back, retract here. So the basics for surgery would be to have traction, counter-traction. That allows us to be able to dissect easier. So you can see him pulling that side, I'm pulling this side, so when you make an incision, it will be easier. So I just continue dissecting around the cyst. Hopefully, I don't puncture it. So I try to stay superficial before I go a little deeper. And you can see the cyst wall here already. A little popping out. I'll go to the inferior part, lower part. More up there, please. So, I already made the incision here. I'll go a little deeper here. Again, I'd want to get the corner here, just like what I did on the other side. So I'm just cutting a bit here, until I get a little deeper. You go on top. The tissues here on the back are a little tougher, as compared to probably other areas in the body. So, you'll have to have more, more strength in the dissection there. Blade. So again, I'll try to release the corner first. Other surgeons use a Metz, Metzenbaum scissors, but I prefer using a blade all the way. So you can wipe the area, just to see normal anatomy. So it's almost out. So it's almost out. It's important to dissect slowly. And around it, you can see this is the cyst wall, see it's thin, and here's the, the tissue, part of muscle there. So just get as much tissue you need to release. Okay, and then here's the cyst wall, completely. So as you can see, you preserve, you remove everything, even the cyst capsule. It's complete. So I didn't rupture it. If you rupture it, sometimes, you may leave some part of the cyst capsule inside, which could be a cause of recurrence. So, normally, you could do without using cautery. This will normally stop, just apply pressure for a few minutes, it'll stop, or you could also use a - a cautery to stop the bleeding. So this is a hand-held cautery. Or normally this would also stop by just putting in sutures. So what I'll do now is just apply pressure there, the bleeding should stop after awhile. What's important here is I'm trying to oppose the edges, so you can see that it could be easily opposed this way.


So you could just go straight by suturing the top with a non-absorbable suture. Since this is the back, I'll use an absorbable suture inside, just to oppose it closely, and then I'll put a non-absorbable outside, just to give more strength to the wound, and the healing to be better. So this is what we call the inverted T-suture, so I lift one edge, start in the middle, come out almost close to the edge, and then go for the other edge, coming from on top, going down, coming out again in the middle. A double-knot, just to keep it closed. Normally I do around 4 or 5 knots for this type of suture. My objective is just to add strength to the tissues underneath. I'll put one more here, before I put the absorbable suture outside. And just a double-knot, a single throw underneath, I'll do one on top here. And you cut this short, this is - this will normally absorb after a few weeks to a month, months sometimes. You could either use this, to have a cleaner, cleaner wound, underneath, but normally during surgical missions, I use absorbable, it's faster, because we normally do a lot of lumps and bumps for surgical missions. Normally, some surgeons would always like doing, of course, the bigger surgeries, but I still feel that these smaller surgeries will help out a lot for the patient because if not done at an early stage like this, you normally have this grow bigger, and it'll be more difficult for the patient. So doing this routinely, offering the services of surgical mission groups. And this suture has to be removed after a week. This is a simple, interrupted stitch. Just go in in one end, out in one end.And then just two knots. And the wound has to be cleaned daily as much as possible, with normal iodine and new gauze. We try to avoid wetting the area, to allow the wound to be clean. That should be it. And we just put a normal dressing over it, just to keep the area sterile.