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Cyst Aspiration

What is a Cyst Aspiration?

A cyst aspiration is a procedure used to drain fluid from a breast cyst. The vast majority of cysts are benign (non-cancerous), though some are quite tender. Aspirating the fluid from a cyst may alleviate symptoms or discomfort. In some cases, specimens are sent to pathology. If the cyst is not benign, early detection is essential and increases treatment options and the likelihood of successful recovery.

Download a PDF with information about Cyst Aspiration.

What Will the Procedure Be Like?

For your cyst aspiration appointment, you should plan on being in the center for a couple of hours, which will include all pre- and post-procedure care. The procedure itself will take about 15 minutes. During this time, you will be lying still on your back. A female ultrasound technologist will make sure that you are comfortable, and then apply a gel that is used to help improve the contact between the hand-held transducer and the skin. The technologist will obtain images by gently pressing and rolling the transducer over areas of the breast or underarms.

Once the abnormality is located, a radiologist will clean the area and inject a local anesthetic into the skin and deeper tissues to numb the area. The radiologist will then drain the cyst. Some women experience minor discomfort during this procedure. Others experience no discomfort at all.

In some cases, we may place a small metallic marker in the area where the cyst was drained. This marker is a reference point for future workups if needed, and confirms the area of concern has been drained. Following your procedure, a mammogram may be performed to document the position of the marker.

What Do I Need to Do Before My Procedure?

When you schedule your exam, we will review your health history and any medications you are currently taking. On the day of your exam, you may eat and drink normally. Please wear a comfortable, loose fitting two-piece outfit as you will be asked to remove your top prior to the exam. A soft robe will be provided for your comfort. Please refrain from wearing any powder, perfumes, deodorant and/or lotions on your underarms and breasts prior to the procedure as they can interfere with the images. A moist towelette will be provided if you need it and deodorant will be supplied to you after your exam. The best way to reduce discomfort is to schedule your exam a week after your menstrual cycle and take a non-aspirin pain reliever (such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve) an hour before your exam.

In order to provide you with the best care possible, we ask that you please arrive no later than the time requested. For patients who arrive after their scheduled appointment time, we may reschedule your procedure to another day.

What Do I Need to Do After My Procedure?

Following your cyst aspiration, you will need to wear a supportive bra and keep the gauze dressing clean and dry for the first 24–48 hours. You may need to ice the site of the aspiration following the procedure. Detailed self-care instructions will be provided to you immediately following your cyst aspiration.

Avoid any strenuous activity for 48 hours following your exam, especially activities that involve repetitive movement of the chest and arms such as lifting, vacuuming, swimming and exercising.

How and When Will I Learn About My Results?

In some cases, specimens are sent to pathology. Once the results are provided by the lab, which may take a few days, a final report is sent to your referring health care provider who will then explain the results to you and answer any follow-up questions you may have.

Under the 21st Century Cures Act, we are required by law to provide you access to your results within 24 hours of them being finalized. Unfortunately, this means you could receive your results prior to receiving communication from our team.


If you have any questions about this procedure, please contact our Biopsy Coordinator at (253) 301-6600.

Center of Excellence 6The Carol Milgard Breast Center is fully accredited in ultrasound-guided breast biopsy by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The ACR only grants the gold seal of accreditation when a breast center provides patients the highest level of image quality and patient safety.

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