Abscess Incision & Drainage Surgery | Ramsay Health Care

Abscess Incision and Drainage

This webpage will give you information about an abscess incision and drainage. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus surrounded by a wall of tissue. An abscess happens when the body tries to control infection. It causes a painful lump and can make you feel unwell. You can get an abscess anywhere in the body.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should no longer have the abscess. Surgery should prevent you from having serious complications that an abscess can cause.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

If an abscess is small, antibiotics may work. Sometimes draining the pus with a needle can help.

What does the operation involve?

A small abscess can be drained under a local anaesthetic but most need a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes between ten and twenty minutes.

Your surgeon will make a cut in your skin over the abscess. Once the pus has been removed, the cavity needs to heal upwards from its floor so the opening in the skin is left open. If the cavity is deep, your surgeon will place an antiseptic dressing in it.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

Specific complications

  • The abscess keeps coming back 

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after. 

Your doctor will tell you when you can return to work depending on the extent of surgery and your type of work. 

Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities.

Summary

An abscess is a collection of pus that can make you feel unwell. Surgery should prevent you from having serious complications that an abscess can cause.

Acknowledgements

Author: Mr Ayan Banerjea MRCS and Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.) 

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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