• Ovarian Cyst Removal—Open Surgery


    This is surgery to remove a cyst on an ovary.
    Ovarian Cyst
    Nuclus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    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 in diameter)
    • Solid (rather than containing just fluid)
    • Causing pain

    Possible Complications

    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:
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Cyst returns after it is removed
    • Need for removal of one or both ovaries
    • Infertility
    • Blood clots
    • Damage to other organs
    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
    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 medicines
    • 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
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)—a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
    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 medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, such as:
      • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
      • Blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin)
      • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
    • 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 eight hours before the surgery.


    • General anesthesia—blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery; given through an IV in your hand or arm

    Description of the Procedure

    The doctor will make a cut in the abdomen. The abdominal muscles will be separated, and the abdomen will be opened. The doctor will locate, clamp, and tie the blood vessels that supply the ovary. (Note: This step is not always needed.)
    Next, the cyst will be removed. In some cases, the doctor will also remove a sample of tissue for testing. If cancer is found, one or both ovaries (if cysts are on both ovaries) may be removed. Lastly, the doctor will use stitches to sew the abdominal muscles. The incision area will be closed with stitches or staples.

    Immediately After Procedure

    After the procedure, you will be given IV fluids and medicines while recovering.

    How Long Will It Take?

    1-2 hours

    Will It Hurt?

    You will have abdominal pain and discomfort for 7-10 days. Your doctor will give you pain medicine.

    Average Hospital Stay

    2-3 days

    Post-procedure Care

    Recovery may take 3-4 weeks. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
    • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
    • Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
    • Gently wash the incision area with mild soap and water.
    • Move and elevate your legs while in bed. This will lessen the chance of blood clots.
    • Take prescription pain medicine only for as long as needed. Take over-the-counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen, naproxen) if the pain is mild.
    • Avoid strenuous exercise for 2-6 weeks.
    • Do not drive until your doctor states this is safe.
    • Do not resume sexual activity until your doctor says it is okay. You may need to wait two 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 medicines 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 medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
    • Headaches, muscle aches, dizziness, or general ill feeling
    • Constipation or abdominal swelling
    • Vomiting
    • Urinary difficulties
    • Onset of pain or swelling in one or both legs
    • New, unexplained symptoms
    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


    The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org

    National Uterine Fibroids Foundation http://www.nuff.org

    Women's Health.gov http://www.womenshealth.gov


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca


    Ovarian cysts. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ovarian-cysts/DS00129/DSECTION=7. Updated July 20, 2007. Accessed June 10, 2008.

    Ovarian tumors. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 2010. Accessed November 12, 2010.

    Revision Information

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.