Ovarian cyst removal is surgery to remove a cyst or cysts from one or both of your ovaries. An open surgery requires an abdominal incision large enough that the doctor can see the cyst and surrounding tissue. It may be done instead of a laparoscopic surgery if the cyst is large, there are many cysts, or complications develop during a laparoscopic surgery.
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Reasons for Procedure
An ovarian cyst may need to be removed if it is:
- Suspected of being cancer (the chances are lower if you are young)
- Large—more than 2.5 inches (6.35 centimeters) in diameter
- Solid (rather than containing just fluid)
- Causing pain
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have an ovarian cyst removed, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Cyst returns after it is removed
- Need for removal of 1 or both ovaries
- Blood clots
- Damage to other organs
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Chronic or recent illness
- Heavy use of alcohol, smoking, or use of narcotics (may make delivering anesthesia more difficult or impair wound healing)
- Use of certain prescription medications
- Previous abdominal surgery
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam
- Review of medications
- Blood tests
- Urine test
- CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of organs
- Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine the abdomen
Talk to your doctor about what action should be taken if cancer is found during surgery. One option is to remove the ovary.
Leading up to the surgery:
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital. Also, arrange for someone to help you at home.
- Do not eat or drink for at least 8 hours before the surgery.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It will be given through an IV in your hand or arm.
Description of the Procedure
An incision will be made in the abdomen. The abdominal muscles will be separated and the abdomen will be opened.
Next, the cyst will be removed. In some cases, a sample of tissue will be removed for testing. If cancer is found, 1 or both ovaries (if cysts are on both ovaries) may be removed. Lastly, stitches will be used to sew the abdominal muscles. The incision will be closed with stitches or staples.
Immediately After Procedure
After the procedure, you will be given IV fluids and medications while recovering.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
You will have abdominal pain and discomfort for 7-10 days. You will be given pain medication.
Average Hospital Stay
Recovery may take 4-6 weeks. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Avoid strenuous exercise until your doctor says it is okay.
- Do not resume sexual activity until your doctor says it is okay. You may need to wait 2 weeks.
- Follow your doctor's guidelines for ultrasound tests. These may need to be done if it is likely that the cysts will return.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
- Unexpected amount of vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were given after surgery, or which last for more than 2 days after discharge from the hospital
- Headaches, muscle aches, lightheadedness, or general ill feeling
- Constipation or abdominal swelling
- Urinary difficulties
- Onset of pain or swelling in 1 or both legs
- New, unexplained symptoms
If you think you are having an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
Women's Health Matters
Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900705/Ovarian-cancer. Updated November 17, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 12/20/2014