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Recovery after treatment

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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After an aspiration on a ganglion cyst you can leave the hospital or surgery straight away.

After surgery to remove a ganglion you may have to wait to be discharged from the hospital. If you have had a local anaesthetic you will be able to leave soon afterwards. If you have had a general anaesthetic then you will have to stay for a few hours until the anaesthesia has worn off and you have been checked over by your surgeon.

Before leaving hospital

Before you leave hospital, you will be given painkillers. There is normally very little pain but if you do feel some the painkillers can be taken as directed by the hospital.

Before you can leave hospital, the staff will:

  • check the wound is comfortable and the bandage is secure,
  • check there is no bleeding or swelling,
  • give you painkillers to take home,
  • give you a note to give to your GP,
  • give you a work certificate or note if required,
  • give you a follow-up appointment for the removal of your stitches,
  • check that you have the phone number of the hospital and ward if you have any questions, and
  • make sure there is a friend or relative to take you home.

After leaving hospital

If the cyst was removed from your wrist or hand you may need to wear a sling for the first few days. This will help keep your arm safe from any accidental knocks and may help reduce swelling and discomfort. Move your fingers regularly to help keep the joints flexible.

Try to rest as much as possible at home, and ask your friends and family for help. You may find it difficult to perform tasks that require using two hands.

Wash around your bandage and try not to get your wound wet until after the dressing and stitches have been removed. This is usually 10 days after your operation.

After having your stitches removed you should be able to start to use your hand as normal but continue to keep the area clean so that it does not get infected. If you experience worsening pain or feel unwell, seek medical help at your hospital or GP surgery.

Returning to work after having a ganglion removed varies from patient to patient and often depends on how much you use your hands for your job. The time away may vary from a few days (light office work, no typing) to six weeks (heavy manual or repetitive work).


Having a ganglion cyst removed is a minor procedure, so complications are rare and seldom serious.

If you have the operation under general anaesthetic there is a very small risk of complications to your heart and lungs. Pre-assessment tests before surgery should make sure that your risks are as low as possible.

Surgery to remove a ganglion cyst will leave a scar that can occasionally be thick and red. For some people the skin around the scar remains numb after the operation.

It is likely that you will experience some bruising in the area after your operation, but this should fade quickly. There is also a small possibility of unexpected stiffness, swelling or pain afterwards. This may be caused by a minor infection that can be treated using antibiotics. Lasting pain or stiffness may need further treatment with physiotherapy.

There is always a chance that a ganglion cyst will come back after treatment. It can be removed again and with a good chance of success the second time round.

Medical Review: December 04, 2009

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