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When Should an Ovarian Cyst Be Removed?

If an ovarian cyst is left untreated, it will usually resolve on its own. However, a solid or partially solid cyst may need to be evaluated by a lab to make sure it isn’t cancerous. While most ovarian cysts don’t need treatment, we may monitor your cyst and perform an ultrasound to determine whether you need surgery.

We may recommend surgical removal if a cyst:

  • grows bigger than 10 centimeters.
  • ruptures and continues to bleed (though this is rare).
  • is noncancerous but causes symptoms.
  • causes symptoms that interfere with everyday activities.
  • grows after menopause.
  • is cancerous.
  • undergoes torsion (twisting).

If you experience severe ovary pain, you may have ovarian cyst torsion (a twisted ovary), which could cut off blood circulation to your ovary. If you experience twisted ovary symptoms, seek emergency care immediately to save your ovary.

Why Choose University of Utah Health?

Women’s Health Services at U of U Health offers a comprehensive program with the most effective surgical options for ovarian cyst (fluid-filled sacs on your ovary) removal. Our women’s health specialists will work with you to customize an individualized treatment plan that manages your symptoms and aligns with your reproductive goals. Our highly trained surgeons are experienced in both minimally invasive surgery and open surgery techniques for ovarian cyst removal.

Risks & Benefits of Cyst Removal

The benefits of cyst removal surgery include relief from pain and other symptoms like bleeding, bloating, and the pressure of the cyst pushing against other parts of your pelvis. However, there is a risk of injury to other areas like your bowel and bladder during surgery. This procedure may also damage the affected ovary, which can affect your fertility. Our specialists will discuss your options to help you make the right decision for you and your health.

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How Do They Remove a Cyst from Your Ovaries?

Prior to your surgery, our team will let you know what to expect in detail. You will be put to sleep under general anesthesia for both surgical procedures. Our health care team will counsel you on the risks and benefits of surgery, as well as what to expect during recovery.

Laparoscopic Ovarian Cyst Removal

During this procedure, we will insert a laparoscope (a tool with a camera attached) through a small incision (cut) in your lower abdomen. Your surgeon will remove your cysts then stitch up the incision. We may send the removed tissue to a lab to make sure the cyst is not cancerous.

Approximately 95 percent of ovarian cyst removals are performed via laparoscopic surgery. We use this surgery most often because it allows us to remove cysts up to 20 centimeters (about the length of a pencil) long through a tiny incision. After you wake up from the anesthesia, you will be able to go home the same day. However, you will need someone to drive you home from the procedure.

Open Ovarian Cyst Surgery

Occasionally, our surgeons may need to remove large cysts (larger than 20 centimeters) via open surgery. During this procedure, your surgeon will cut a larger incision through your abdomen, which will require a longer recovery time. If you have open surgery, you will have to stay in the hospital for one or two nights.

Ovarian Cyst Removal Scar

If you've had laparoscopic surgery, your incision (cut) will leave a small scar between five and 12 millimeters long. Open procedures that require a larger incision are made at the bikini line to make it easier to hide.

Ovarian Cyst Removal Recovery Time

You may experience some pain at your incision site. Your doctor will recommend or prescribe you the necessary pain medication.

After laparoscopic surgery, most patients will go back to work within a week and resume vigorous physical activity, like running, within two weeks. If you've undergone open surgery, you'll need to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity for six weeks. You may resume light activities around the house or in your yard about two weeks after surgery. 

Ovarian Cyst Removal Side Effects

Most patients don’t experience complications, however, call your doctor if you have:

  • a fever;
  • excessive vaginal bleeding;
  • abdominal swelling or pain;
  • pain, bleeding, or discharge at the incision site; or
  • other unusual symptoms.

Ovarian Cyst Regrowth after Removal

Only 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cysts will grow back after removal. However, new cysts may appear after surgery.

Schedule an Appointment

If you have ovarian cyst symptoms or are considering treatment for your ovarian cysts, call 801-213-2995 to schedule an appointment. No physician referral is necessary to be seen by our gynecologic specialists.

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