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Ganglion Cyst Removal Surgery or Simply Needle Aspiration

ganglion cyst treatments aspiration surgery options
A Ganglion Cyst is a bump on top of a joint or the covering of a tendon. The swelling may feel hard and firm, but it is just a jelly-like fluid inside the cyst.

More common among women, Ganglion Cysts generally occur on the back of the hand or they can also grow on the palm side of the wrist. To date, the cause of these cysts is still unknown.

hand bandage after ganglion cyst surgery
For those following me on Facebook, you would have known that I had a surgery recently to remove my Ganglion Cyst. It popped out of nowhere at the back my hand early last year, and had me real worried. It got painful as time went by, and I decided to seek medical help.

I have received several messages from parties who have also developed the cyst and interested to know about my condition and treatments etc. This prompted me to share my personal experience and journey with those who may need more information.

What to Do When You Notice a Growth on Your Hand
I went to a GP months later after I had discovered a bump on the back of my hand because it was getting painful. I was concerned not knowing what it was then. The GP diagnosed it as a Ganglion Cyst, who then referred me to an Orthopaedic Specialist to seek treatment.

Options Available to Treat Ganglion Cyst
1) Ganglion Cysts is also known as Bible Cysts because one traditional method to remove a Ganglion Cyst is to strike the growth with a Bible or large and heavy book, causing the cyst to rupture. This method is highly discouraged as you may be causing more damage.

2) Leave it if it is not painful as the Ganglion Cyst may just disappear. Since it did not go away after months and it was getting uncomfortable, I opted for Step 3.

3) An aspiration can be performed to remove the fluid from the cyst. Using ultrasound to aid the procedure, this requires placing a needle into the cyst to draw out the fluid, and then injecting steroid.

Aspiration for Ganglion Cyst is a very simple and quick procedure, but recurrence of the cyst is common. In my case, the cyst and pain were all gone but returned in just 3 months. So I took another chance and went back to the hospital to repeat the aspiration procedure. It was all good until few months later when the cyst came back for the 2nd time. Left with no choice, I went for Step 4 next.

4) Surgery to remove Ganglion Cyst. Surgical treatment is generally successful although cysts may recur. One surgeon told me there is a less than 5% chance that it will return, but another gave me a 20% return rate. Nonetheless, the cyst was making my hand weak and painful so I had no option but to go for surgery.

What to Expect in a Surgery to Remove Ganglion Cyst
The surgery is generally performed on an outpatient basis. Prior to the surgery, you will have to go through couple of tests to prepare you for the operation, and to ensure you are fit to go through.

You will be given a choice of Regional Anaesthesia ( numbs specific parts of body; patient is awake but can request for sedation ) or General Anaesthesia ( put into a state of unconsciousness ), which the anaesthetist will explain in detail.

Some of the Risks of Regional Anaesthesia Include:
Common ( 1 : 10 to 1 : 100 )
  • Numbness of limbs / lower half of body.
  • Weakness and temporary loss of muscle control over numbed area
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • Bleeding / bruising over injections site
Uncommon ( 1 : 1000 to 1 : 10000 )
  • Nerve damage
  • Damage to surrounding structures
  • Breathing difficulties and Fits
Rare ( 1 : 10000 to 1 : 100000 )
  • Severe or permanent nerve damage
  • Permanent disability
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Death
Some of the Risks of General Anaesthesia and Sedation Include:
Common ( 1 : 10 to 1 : 100 )
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Short-term memory loss / confusion
  • Sore throat
Uncommon ( 1 : 1000 to 1 : 10000 )
  • Damage to teeth, lips or tongue
  • Damage to voice cords and box
  • Damage to nerves over pressure area
  • Difficulty in passing urine
Rare ( 1 : 10000 to 1 : 100000 )
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Death
Initially, I had opted for Regional Anaesthesia since it is just numbing my arm, and there is less probability of nausea and vomiting. But my hubby thought that I should go for General Anaesthesia instead, since RA has a risk of nerve damage as local anaesthetics and other pain medicines are injected near the nerves supplying sensation to the intended surgical site. As all tests showed that I am healthy enough to go through GA, so I went along with my hubby’s decision.

On the day of surgery, patient will need to fast. Nothing to eat or drink the night before.

What to Expect After Surgery

hand injury arm sling ganglion cyst removal
The Surgery went well and I did not experience any nausea / vomiting, short-term memory loss / confusion, nor sore throat. Hand was heavily bandage after surgery and I had to wear a sling for 5 days.

Pain kicked in after anaesthesia wore off in the middle of the night and I could not sleep. I was concerned as the pain did not come from the surgery area but my thumb. It was numb and painful.

I managed to secure an appointment to consult the surgeon two days after surgery. I expressed my concern, and she removed my bandage. That was a sore between my thumb and index finger. She explained the numbness was because the bandage was too tight, and assured me it is normal.

ganglion cyst surgery physiotherapy hand flexibility
After that, I had my wound cleaned and changed to a lighter bandage, and I was taught to do some physiotherapy. The flexibility of my hand was measured as I could not bend my hand.

1 Week After Surgery

1st week after hand surgery ganglion cyst removal
Cleaning of wound and measuring the flexibility of my hand again. Hand was still swollen, and my thumb was still numb with throbbing pain. The physiotherapist explained that it is normal.

2 Weeks After Surgery

2nd week after hand surgery ganglion cyst removal
Day of removing stitches. It seemed that my stitches have dissolved by itself except for the knot so there was no need for removal. However, my thumb was still numb with throbbing pain. Doctor said it will probably take 2 months to recover from the numbness.

ganglion cyst removal surgery physiotherapy hand exercises
As for the flexibility of my hand, I was told to force it else it will not recover. I am doing my physio everyday according to the paper given by the physiotherapist, but it is really painful whenever I try to bend my hand.

3 Weeks After Surgery

bruised hand after ganglion cyst removal surgery
Hand became bruised the next day after I got an Indonesian masseur to come over to give me a body massage. Lol!

reduce scar holista vitamin e oil tea tree
I also noticed that my hand has become dry and wrinkled. I was told that Pure Vitamin E Oil and Tea Tree Oil help in healing of wound, so I found Holista 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil ( SGD 39.90 ) and Holista Pure Vitamin E Oil with 28000 IU ( SGD 39.90 ). You can find these at Guardian Pharmacy, Watsons and Unity.

cica care scar treatment gel sheet ganglion cyst
I also found this Cica Care Scar Treatment Gel Sheet, 12cm x 3cm retailing at SGD 63.10 at Guardian Pharmacy. They were having a 20% discount, so I paid SGD 50.45 for this small piece of plaster. Not sure if it works, but I learnt that a combination of scar cream and laser yield a better result.  I find scar cream too troublesome as I would need to apply often, compared to gel sheet since I just need to paste it on the scar for few hours a day.

Well, there is no need to return to the hospital at this moment unless my hand still can’t bend, or the numbness in my thumb is yet to recover.

Hope my wound will heal well though I am now left with a 1” scar. I have been advised by my aesthetic doctor that laser should be able to help lighten the scar. Will keep you guys updated.

Do you have Ganglion Cyst too? How did you treat it? Do share with us your experience so the rest can also learn from your experience.


  1. Sorry to hear about the cyst, I hope you'll recover from the operation quickly. As far as I know Ganglio Cyst is caused either by micro injuries to the hand or by repetitive movements of the hand. Professional athletes sometimes get it and it is more common with women (perhaps because of house work we do?). I know that hand injuries can sometimes be caused by prolonged work behind a computer or a laptop screen, which may put our hands into unnatural position. According to Croatian sites, there is a 10 percent change of Ganglio Cyst returning after operation and surgical removal is considered the most effective method. I didn't have a Ganglio Cyst but I have had abscesses in different parts of my body due to Chron disease and all of them had to be removed surgically. All these abscesses were very painful and uncomfortable so I know what it feels like. I've had 6 surgical procedures / operations with General Anesthesia in my life. I've also had about 3 or 4 medical examinations with General Anesthesia. The effects mostly depended on the length of the procedure. The last operation I had was a bit longer, they had to cut out a part of my intestine and colon, and this time I was really sick after General Anesthesia, vomiting and all that. When it comes to other operations, I didn't experience major symptoms or discomfort due to GA. When it comes to the scar, all I know is that sun exposure isn't good for it and that one should always cover the scar with the sunscreen cream because the scar tissue doesn't have melanin. Right now I have a large scar across my whole stomach, but I don't plan to have it surgically removed because I will probably need more operations in the future. I think there are other options available for scars, special creams and things like that. I haven't tried them yet myself but I will look it up.

    Have a nice day! Get well soon!

    1. I'm so sorry to learn about your health, sweetie. I haven't heard of Chron until I read about it in one of your posts. It must be traumatic for you to undergo so many surgeries, & I feel your pain. With regards to scarring, I learnt that laser treatments are rather effective.

      Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Ivana! You take care too@ xoxo

  2. I have had a smaller ganglion cyst on my wrist for years. Thank goodness it doesn't cause any pain so I can ignore it. Hope you're fully recovered soon! xo

    1. As long as it doesn't hurt, it's good to ignore it. Thanks, Liz! xoxo

  3. I did have one as a result of strain, since I started farming. I was told to leave it. I did. And it vanished. Did take more than a few months.

    1. Lucky you, dear! I waited for months but it just got more & more painful. Sigh!

  4. glad to hear your surgery went well. take it easy

  5. I didn't know of such cyst. Thought it is bones or some sort. Now I learn something here.

    Glad your surgery went well. Speedy recovery, my dear.

  6. Interesting post, I learned a lot!

  7. So sorry, Shirley.
    Glad your surgery went well, good luck hun!
    Kisses, Paola.


  8. I'm very glad everything went smooth and well, Shirley!
    Whishing you a quick full recovery!

  9. I didn't know about it. I hope, you are better already.

  10. How is your wrist now? I had a surgery 1 month ago andjust starting physiotherapy now as I had a cast on my arm. I'm very concerned about the pain and how little I can bend the wrist. Did you manage to recover fully?

    1. Hi Nat, it took me more than 6 mths before I can reach the normal range of flexibility. But it was very painful when bending during that period of physiotherapy.

      As for the scar, I did a combination of those mentioned above plus Laser treatments at EHA Clinic. You can read more about the aesthetics clinic in my blog here.

      Speedy recovery to you! Pls feel free to ask any other questions.


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