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Ovarian Cystectomy

An ovarian cystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove an ovarian cyst. These are fluid-filled sacs that can develop on your ovaries.

Cysts are fairly common and often go away on their own. However, if you have an ovarian cyst that does not disappear by itself, becomes larger and causes pain, your doctor may recommend an ovarian cystectomy.

There are two types of ovarian cystectomy:

Laparoscopic cystectomy. This is a minimally-invasive procedure, which means your surgeon will make very small cuts in your skin and use a tiny camera with a light to guide the operation. The ovarian cyst will be removed through one of the small incisions.

Open cystectomy (laparotomy). If the cyst is thought to be cancerous or is too large to be removed laparoscopically, your surgeon will make a larger incision in your abdomen to remove it.

Contact Gynaecology Clinic

Before

Ovarian cysts often cause no symptoms and go away on their own. However, if a cyst ruptures, becomes very large or twists, it can cause:

  • Pelvic pain – this can be dull or sudden and sharp
  • Pain during sex
  • A frequent need to pass urine
  • Heavy periods, irregular periods or lighter periods than normal

If you are experiencing any gynaecological symptoms and are worried, book an appointment with one of our experienced gynaecologists.

Our gynaecologists aim to provide a one-stop service so you can leave your appointment with a diagnosis and know your next steps. When you come in for your appointment, your gynaecologist will take a detailed medical history and ask you questions about your symptoms, including when they started, if they have been getting worse and whether they’re new or recurring. They will then conduct a physical examination and run an ultrasound scan, which will confirm your diagnosis.

If you do have an ovarian cyst, the scan will show your gynaecologist where it is located and how big it is. Depending on the size and type of cyst, they may recommend a watch and wait approach and provide some medication to help with your symptoms. You may need to have another ultrasound scan in a few weeks to monitor the cyst.

If your gynaecologist suspects a cancerous cyst, you will also need to have some blood tests to look for high levels of certain chemicals associated with ovarian cancer.

If your cyst is large, causing symptoms or potentially cancerous, your doctor will recommend an ovarian cystectomy.

Preparing for surgery

If you decide to go ahead with surgery, we will help you prepare, but you should also try to eat healthily in the run up and stop smoking if you can.

Preparation will involve having some pre-operative tests, including an MRSA test. We will also give you some specific antibacterial soap and lotions to use in the run up to the procedure, which will help reduce your risk of contracting MRSA.

If you take any blood thinners—for example, Warfarin or aspirin, tell your gynaecologist straight away, as you may need to stop taking these or modify your intake from a week before surgery. Your gynaecologist will give you specific instructions if this is the case. You should also tell them if you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

You cannot eat for 6 hours prior on the day of your surgery. You can drink water up to four hours prior to surgery. You cannot eat chewing gum and hard candies. Brush your teeth with toothpaste only on the morning of surgery. If you take any prescription medications, bring them to hospital with you. Your doctor will let you know if you can take these with a sip of water before your surgery or if you should wait until after.

On surgery day, it’s a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothing and bring a small bag with things you might need during your stay. Items to remember include a toothbrush and toothpaste, your phone and a charger, a book, any prescription medications and a change of clothes.

Once you have arrived and are settled in your room, a nurse will help prepare you for surgery by monitoring vital signs and running through your medical history, medications and emergency contacts.

Your doctor will then run you through the procedure once again and ask you to sign a consent form for surgery.

During

An ovarian cystectomy is usually performed as a minimally-invasive day-case surgery, which means you can be treated and go home the same day. If you are having open surgery however, you will probably need to stay in hospital overnight. Your surgery will be done under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep.

To start with, you will have an intravenous (IV) line fitted into a vein. This is usually done in an arm or hand. Through this, your surgical team can quickly give you medications and fluids. The surgical team will also place monitors on you that will help keep you stay safe throughout surgery.

After some final safety checks, surgery can start. If you are having a laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy, your gynaecologist will make a small cut near your belly button. Through this incision, they will insert a laparoscope (a device with a tiny camera and light at the end), which will give your surgical team a direct view of your ovaries and the cyst(s).

The gynaecologist will then inflate your abdominal wall with carbon dioxide so they have the clearest view possible of your pelvic organs. Then, they will make two or three further tiny incisions, through which they will insert their surgical tools. If you are having open surgery, you will have a larger incision in the abdominal wall, which will provide direct access to the ovaries. Once the cyst(s) is removed, your abdominal wall is deflated and the incisions closed with stitches or wound glue, with a protective bandage placed on top.

After

After surgery, your surgical team will take you to our recovery area where specialist staff will monitor your vital signs as you wake from anaesthesia. When you wake up, you may feel bloated and gassy due to the carbon dioxide.

Once we’re happy you’re doing well, we will take you to a private room where you can start your recovery.

For those that have had a laparoscopic removal, you may only need to stay in hospital for a further two to three hours. However, a friend or family member will need to take you home as you are not allowed to drive after anaesthesia.

If you had open surgery, you will probably need to stay overnight.

Recovery at home

You can have a shower the day after your operation. If you get your incisions wet, don’t worry. Pat (don’t rub) them dry with a towel.

If your surgeon used dissolvable stitches, these will disappear on their own.

If you had a laparoscopic procedure, you may need to take one to three weeks off work, depending on how you are feeling. When you get home, it’s important to take things easy at first and gradually increase your activity levels each day. Getting up and about will help speed up your recovery and prevent complications.

Some help at home will be helpful, at least for the first week post-surgery. If you had open surgery, the recovery time will be longer, and you may need closer to 6-8 weeks off work to focus on getting better.

Medically reviewed by Mr Emeka Okaro - MBBS FRCOG on 17/01/2024

How to pay for your treatment

If you’re… paying for yourself

Did you know you don’t need private medical insurance to come to St John & St Elizabeth Hospital? As a self-pay patient, you can access safe, outstanding quality health care at times to suit you.

For scans and tests, as well as to see most consultants, you’ll still need to be referred by a medical professional like your GP, but as a self-pay patient, the process is more straightforward. You won’t need authorisation from an insurance provider, and you’ll have greater choice of consultant and appointment times.

If you’re… insured

St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is approved by all major medical insurance companies. If you have a personal private health insurance policy, or your company provide it for you, you can use it to pay for your care from your initial consultation through to treatment, surgery and aftercare such as physiotherapy. Not all private health insurance plans cover the same things. It’s very important to check exactly what you are covered for with your insurance provider.