Why Does My Sebaceous Cyst Keep Coming Back?

I frequently see patients who complain that they had a sebaceous cyst drained, but that it came back.  Why does this happen? To answer this question, let’s discuss what a cyst actually is.  The medical definition of a cyst is a sac lined with cells.  Cysts can occur within organs such as the ovaries, kidneys and liver, or can occur on the skin.  Cysts of the skin are commonly referred to as sebaceous cysts, but there are actually several different types of skin cysts, depending on the cell type of origin:

  • A sebaceous cyst arises from the oil glands
  • An epidermal inclusion cyst arises from the epidermal skin cells
  • A pilar cyst arises from the hair follicles

All three types cysts appear identical on exam; they appear as a large lump.  Squeezing this lump may produce a thick, white, cheesy substance (you may have seen videos of this uploaded to You Tube, or posted on Facebook.)  This thick white substance is composed of oil and dead skin cells made by the cells lining the cyst.  As the lining cells make more oil and skin cells, the cyst slowly becomes larger.  Cysts can also become infected.   In this instance, the cyst becomes red, hot to the touch, swollen, and painful as in the photo below.

"Inflamed epidermal inclusion cyst" by Steven Fruitsmaak - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Inflamed epidermal inclusion cyst” by Steven Fruitsmaak – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

To treat an inflamed or infected cyst your doctor may drain the infection and place you on antibiotics.  But draining the contents of the cyst does not remove the cyst cavity itself.  So the cyst “comes back” when it fills back up with oil and dead skin cells. Actually removing a cyst involves making an incision in the skin.  The cyst is removed, and the incision is sutured closed.

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

Will I Have Wrinkles After a Facelift?

Facelifts are a very popular and very common plastic surgical procedure; they were one of the top five most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in 2010.  Despite this popularity, there are many misconceptions about what exactly a facelift does.  Patients often expect that having a facelift will rejuvenate everything from sagging eyelids to loose skin over the neck, but this is actually not the case.  A standard facelift addresses only the mid-face: the area from your cheekbone to your jawline.  The main area of improvement is along the jawline where jowling starts to show as we age.  Facelifts may also soften the lines around the mouth.  Any lax skin over the neck or under the chin is treated by a neck lift.  This is commonly done at the time of a facelift, but is actually a separate surgical procedure.  Facelifts do not address the forehead, eyelids, or overall skin texture, a fact which surprises many of my patients.  To treat these areas may require additional surgical procedures, such as a brow-lift or eyelift.  Overall skin texture is generally treated by a laser peel. Look at the graphic below, and you will see that several separate procedures are actually required for “full-face” rejuvenation.

 

original image from shutterstock.com

original image from shutterstock.com

I think that part of this common misconception may be due to advertising.  I have seen many before and after pictures on television and in magazines advertising a facelift, but if you read the fine print, the patient actually had several other procedures done in addition to the facelift.

 

Do you have any questions about facial rejuvenation?

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ll admit it- I really have no great surgery-related topic for today.  But I did want to recognize the holiday, even if it does seem a bit commercialized and artificial.  I myself have no particularly glamorous Valentine’s Day plans- I have a dentist appointment this afternoon, and then we’re getting Thai food tonight.  Crazy noodles are my idea of excitement, so you can see I’m really living on the edge.

I hope this Valentine’s Day gives you a chance to do something nice for yourself or someone you love.  And if there are any topics you would like to hear about- drop me a line in the comments section.

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

Happy New Year!

I guess I’m a little late with the first blog post of 2013, but here it is.  And you know what, I’m not even going to talk about plastic surgery today.  I’m going to talk about one of my favorite new moisturizers instead.  I know I’ve gone on and on about how important it is to moisturize your skin- not only is dry skin itchy and uncomfortable, but dry skin can crack, letting bacteria that start an infection brewing.

So what is my favorite new moisturizer?  Well, it smells great, you can use it on your skin and hair, and even eat it.  Did you guess already?  Yep- its coconut oil!  Coconut oil has been in the popular press quite a bit lately for all of these uses.  I have used in in some recipes to replace butter (it’s great in granola, for example).  And since winter started, I’ve also been using as lotion.  It absorbs fast and smells great.

Coconut oil also works well as a hair moisturizer- just rub some on your hands, then rub into your hair.  Let is set for 5 or 10 minutes, then shower as usual.  Now want to hear something a little strange?  I’ve actually been using coconut oil on my dog.  Yeah, I realize that’s um…. thinking outside the box.  But she’s a Maltipoo, and she’s got some long, curly hair.  She also doesn’t shed, which is a set-up for matting.  I don’t like to give her baths in the winter, because she gets cold so quickly, so I tried rubbing a little coconut oil in her fur.  (She smells great, by the way- we call her the coco-mutt.)  I’ve just been rubbing it on my hands, then through her fur, and as long as I don’t use more than a teaspoon, she doesn’t get anything oily when she lays down (e.g. the couch, our bed…)  And she is not only much easier to comb out, but her skin isn’t nearly as dry.  And her hair isn’t full of static when I brush her, which we both appreciate.  Oh, and since it’s totally edible, I don’t worry when she promptly licks it off her fur!

You can see her crazy, curly fur in the pics below.

Thanks for stopping by over the past few months.  If there are any topics you’d like to hear about over the next year, I would love to hear about them!

Maggie Moo, relaxing at home

Maggie Moo, relaxing at home

Look at that Maltipoo move!

Look at that Maltipoo move!

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

Hurricane Sandy hits… Cleveland

Hurricane Sandy hit the coast yesterday, and I’m sitting home watching news coverage on CNN (okay, that and alternating between the marathon of horror movies on AMC.  It’s nearly Halloween, after all!)  Why am I home at 11am on a Tuesday?  Because the power is out at our office.

I was on my way in to the hospital this morning to round on my patients who had surgery yesterday when my office manager rang in to let me know our office was one of the 7,700+ places in Mentor, OH without power, just another casualty of Hurricane Sandy.  And I’m grateful that our patients our generally being treated for non-emergency conditions, so rescheduling them isn’t a huge problem.  In fact, we only had a handful of people scheduled for today, as we were actually doing training for our new electronic medical record.  That would be tough without power.  So I’ll do my part and stay off the roads today.

How are you weathering the storm?

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.