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Incision/drainage of bartholins cyst/abcess

What is it?

The Bartholin’s gland lie one each side of the opening to the vagina. Each gland is about the size of a pea and secretes a small amount of fluid which is mainly produced on sexual excitement. They are prone to infection because of where they are. Sometimes the entrance to the duct can get blocked off. This can be become infected and form an abscess. This can sometimes rupture (burst) on its own but this usually reforms and will need to be drained under general anaesthetic. Sometimes after surgery, another abscess may form and you will need to have the procedure repeated.

About the operation

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes. Whilst you are asleep, a small incision is made over the top of the “lump”. The cyst/ abscess is then drained and stitched with dissolvable stiches.

After the operation

When you first come back from theatre, you may have something to drink and then about half an hour after that something to eat. The nurse will ask you not to get out of bed on your own the first time but to use the nurse buzzer. You will return from theatre with a sanitary towel in place and you may have slight blood loss, this is normal.  

When you get home

After the operation you will need a few hours on the ward before going home. A doctor may see you before you go home if needed and a qualified nurse will need to formally discharge you before you go. You will need someone to take you home and someone to look after you for the next 24 hours.

You will need to rest for the remainder of the day.

Will I bleed?

If you bleed at all the blood loss will be minimal.

Will I have any pain?

You may have pain around the wound site after the operation, so you will feel bruised and swollen for a few days. You will probably be given some local anaesthetic. You will be given some painkillers to take home, take these regularly for the first few days as prescribed and then as and when you need after that.


The stiches that you have will dissolve or come out on their own. You can bath and shower as normal after 24 hours NO bubble bath or salt, make sure that you are clean and dry properly afterwards. Sometimes if you feel too sore to dry yourself with a towel using a hairdryer on cool setting will help.

Returning to work

You may need to take a few days of work, and you can use a self-signing sick note. You will need to make an appointment with your GP if you need a sick note after that. Any other specific advice you will be given on discharge

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