Bartholin Cyst Gland Excision Experience - POSITIVE

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It's extremely hard to find any positive experiences of this surgery, and even the horror stories are almost slim to none. This is such a common problem and the longer I've had these cysts, the more people I've realized get them too and I'm not the only one. I hope this helps someone going through the same thing because I get it. It's AWFUL.

I have had 8 Bartholin cysts, which became infected every time in the last 7 years. I am 23 now and I got my first at 16. About a year ago, I had a marsupialization as a permanent solution after several in-office lancings, catheters, etc. 3 months later, I developed another cyst and discovered that antibiotics made it drain on its own and it was gone. Got another one 3 months after that, 6 months post-op. Same treatment at home - antibiotics made it drain. 4 months after this, 10 months post-op, I got my third since my surgery. Antibiotics didn't take, so I made an appointment after about a week and they happened to have a cancellation the next day for surgery and my OB/GYN suggested I go through with the excision surgery I have been dreading because of these horror stories I have read (and cried) about for months.

I had my excision 6 days ago and am feeling okay. Waking up after the surgery was terrible and I was in excruciating pain for a few hours, but I was told no morphine/pain medicine was used during the surgery, so it was warranted. I took pain medication for the first 12 hours in conjunction with 500mg ibuprofen every 6 six hours, and it mostly just uncomfortable. I did not sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time, and slept with a pillow in between my legs for comfort, but I was able to keep up with my medicine. I used an ice pack on and off for 20 mins at a time for the first 36 hours to help with swelling.

Now 6 days out, I am somewhat pain-free. And mind you, I have like, ZERO tolerance for pain. I'm the biggest baby. There was some bleeding right after the surgery, but it turned to just some discharge by the next morning, and I have had a tiny bit over the last day or so. Here and there I get a pang of slight pain or a pinching feeling that hurts, but it goes away. I am a bartender so I have to be off of work for 10-14 days and have been resting as much as I possibly can. It is mostly just uncomfortable and I can't stand for too long of a time before needing to sit/lay again. This experience is straining on my relationship (he was here for my marsupialization in the very beginning), but we both agreed that this was the right thing for me to do. I know that I can't live my life afraid of this happening forever and always wondering when it's going to come back, so I went through with the surgery. I have a check up appointment with my OB/GYN who also performed the surgery this week, a little after a week post-op. I am still taking my ibuprofen every 6 hours to manage soreness/discomfort and I have been on a week of antibiotics to prevent infection.

I decided to look today after the swelling and possible bruising has gone down and was definitely surprised at the amount and placement of the stitches. My doctor said they were inside the vagina rather than outside like my marsupialization (which was terrible because I had them for 8 weeks and they hurt like hell), but they run all the way from the gland and up to the top on the right side in the inner labia. It's not pretty but I'll take a little ugliness over pain and fear for the rest of my life.

All in all, I'd say this is going to be worth it so far. Happy to post updates if it helps someone else reading comments on the internet until they're crying themselves to sleep out of fear like I did. I would have loved to see A) real information that is actually helpful and B) positive experiences that made all my anxiety and tears worth it.

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  • Posted

    I had bilateral gland excision 3 years ago and am glad I did. I have not had any re-occurances of cysts! Yayyy! Mine never got infected but I was told I should pretty much stop exercising which was not an option for me! Within 6 months of surgery I was back to biking and running. Was surgery fun? Umm...no....it was painful. Sitz baths (I sat several times a day in a container over the toilet using Epsom salts/warm water) and iced when I wasn't doing that. I spent a lot of time just laying...sitting and standing were uncomfortable. The surgical pain went away after 6 weeks or so. Sex...well...thankfully my husband was understanding and still is. There are scars. They are tender. They will likely always be. A little bit of lube goes a long ways to help things out down there! But was it worth it? Absolutely! I wouldn't have chosen a different solution if I had to choose again. I did my homework though...and got the best surgeons I could. A gynocologist/oncologist is used to small areas and placing teeny tiny sutures! Thus my area of sutures was just where the glands were...just inside my vaginal canal. Thankfully my gynocologist at the time was good friends with the only gyn/onc in my state and was willing to ask him to scrub in...since excisions are not performed routinely. I was lucky in that respect (if there is any luck with BG cysts!!!). There are positive stories! Whenever I see someone post about positive stuff..I usually try to as well. While there is nothing positive about having bartholin gland issues, there can be positive outcomes!! Glad things going well for you! It may take a little longer to heal than 10-14 days for sure...but you are on the road to recovery...and things will get back to normal soon enough!

    Llori

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    • Posted

      Thank you! I know I've got weeks ahead of me, my marsupilization took 2 full months to heal and have all the stitches dissolve. I assumed this would be able the same, and I'm hoping not worse. I don't get PTO or anything because I live off tips, so I'm not willing to take that long off from work. My boyfriend was understanding that this is a quality of life issue and it needed to be done, but I am nervous about the weeks to come and sex afterwards since we did not have issues after my last surgery at all. I just know I can't mentally or physically deal with this forever because it made me crazy when they kept happening all year.

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    • Posted

      Also, they told you that you couldn't exercise? That seems a bit extreme. I am by no means a runner, but I do strength training and lighter cardio like walking on an incline or the occasional stair machine a few days a week at the gym normally. I also have a really active job so I'm constantly up and down the stairs, carrying cases of beer, etc. So it's kind of unavoidable, I'm surprised to hear you say that they told you that. I will ask in my follow up what my doctor's thoughts are.

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    • Posted

      So...while it took a while to heal, I was back to work the following week. I am a nurse...so like your job, not much sitting is involved! As long as I didn't sit and ibuprofen /Tylenol made my pain tolerable, I was able to work. I certainly didn't start running again for about 3 months...and I did complete a couple bike rides within 5 months after surgery. Prior to surgery, they just kept stating don't do anything to aggravate the vaginal area....so running and biking were out...my main goto's for exercising! The cyst on my right side was so deep it was causing terrible hip pain! That was gone within weeks after surgery! The only doctor that believed it was from the BG was the gyn/onc. He said that my hip pain was absolutely from the cyst! He was right.

      Llori

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  • Posted

    THANK YOU! I decided to have my bartholins glands removed a week ago (after years of pain from reoccurring cysts just as you explained) on May 1st and have been absolutely miserable ever since. I really needed to hear something positive.. unlike you I did no research of this procedure prior to having it because my doctor said that it was an easy 4-6 day recovery and I have been freaking out since. I feel as though my pain has gotten even worse since I’ve gotten home. I only took the Motrin when I first got home but 4 days after had to start taking the stronger medication they prescribed. I had my follow up appointment yesterday and I have developed a blood clot/infection behind my inscision on the right side but my left side is completely pain free and healing nicely. I’m on antibiotics now (wish I had been from the start like you!) and am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I just have to wait for the clot to break up and dissolve on its own at this point. 

    Please continue to post updates on your recovery!

    When do you plan on returning to work? I unfortunately work 12 hour shifts and am scheduled to go back Thursday night shift.. not sure I’ll be ready by then!  

    What medications are you taking on a daily basis now and how often and what is the dosages? 

    Again THANK YOU! Glad to here your recovery is going well! 

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    • Posted

      Oh wow, this is definitely not an easy recovery. Even with my marsupialization last year, she told me no sex for a week so I figured it would be quick. Week after week went by and the stitches would not budge, and I wasn't about to mess with that because I wanted it to work for my sanity. She said the recovery period is about the same, though she did use different stitches for me this time so that they hopefully dissolve a little quicker.

      I'm thinking I'm looking at 6 weeks or so to start being normal and having the stitches dissolve. This time she said no sex/tampons for 3 weeks and I have not had my follow up yet. I wasn't expecting to see any stitches because it sounded like they would be in my actual vaginal canal, but they are definitely outside. Unless they're in there too, ugh. I'm not finding out on my own.

      I was told 10-14 days to return to work just because I am on my feet and have an active job, otherwise I could have handled going back this week if I had a desk job. I had my surgery Wed. May 2nd and I am planning on going back this Saturday the 12th. Unfortunately it's a closing shift so I'm looking at like 9-10 hours, so I'm definitely nervous but taking my prescription ibuprofen around the clock really has helped. Yesterday I didn't take one in the morning and did start to get a little sore as the day went on so I went back to taking them. That is every 6 hours, one 500mg pill. The antibiotic is one pill every 12 hours and I will be finished that tomorrow as it will have been a week. That was preventative to avoid what happened to you unfortunately ):

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    • Posted

      I’ve read in the past few days that different doctors do it different ways. My incisions and stitches are all internal and not visible. I wonder if because you had the marsupilization previously that that is why they chose to take a different approach? Either way all that matters is that you are feeling better! 

      I’ve felt so much better since being on the antibiotics and am definitely taking a turn for the better. Wish I had been on them from the start! Switching back to Tylenol and Motrin tomorrow so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good pain control! 

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    • Posted

      Hi, I hope all is going well with you!! How is your recovery going?

      Just got back from my 2 week appointment and she said the stitches are already dissolving and she's thinking another two weeks. She also explained to me the reason I have so many stitches on the outside is because of how big the cyst was on the inside, so she made sure to get every bit of it out so this can't happen again. I haven't taken anything for pain the last 3 days because I feel fine, just really itchy here and there. Also, the hardness underneath the stitches I have is just scarring, and my doctor said it will break up. Super happy so far that I went through with this.

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  • Posted

    Can anyone tell me what your labia looked like after healing? My inner labia on the cyst side looks like the bottom half was cut out. I am currently one week post op.

    Thanks!

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    • Posted

      Unfortunately I am about 6 weeks post-op as of tomorrow and I still have stitches. My doctor was sure they would have dissolved around week 4, but I had stitches for 8 weeks for my marsupialization and she also told me it would take less time than that. She is the same doctor that performed both for me. So I can't 100% tell yet. I am healed and only really have some discomfort after working Saturday nights because they are my longest shift I have all week. It's just the stitches irritating me though, I had the same problem last year from them just rubbing from walking and what not. 

      I also have stitches running all the way from the actual gland site to my clitoris because the cyst was so large inside, and I have about 4-5 stitches in my canal she said. So this is definitely why it's taking longer for them to dissolve. Looks a little asymmetrical now but I could care less if this is going to stop this from happening forever.

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    • Posted

      Also I had a scar already from the marsup last year, so I already had that at the bottom of the my labia. This time it looks like most of the damage was done actually above where the gland was, the stitches are pretty jagged and not straight so it made my skin a little uneven. Again, I'll take that over pain though

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  • Posted

    I also have a positive experience to share:

    I am a 31 year old, 135 lbs very fit and active female. I had surgery for BC excision Sept 2017. After a year of trying every home remedy that I could find and battling having a painful sex life and not being to bike I decided it was not going to stop flaring up. My gyno recommended a complete excision of my bartholin cyst, gland and a labial cyst. It was a minor surgery but the recovery was really scary and extremely painful. I thought they hit a nerve for about 3 days where I had burning shooting pain down my legs. It subsided. It took about 6 weeks to feel somewhat normal again. Was surprised when I had to take a full 7 days off work for recovery and then had to sit on a donut for a month. I must say though now that I am 100% recovered (took a minimum of 6 months for me to feel really normal again), I am very thankful I was brave and chose to undergo the surgery. Knock on wood I have not had any flare-ups again and my vagina feels back to normal. I have a super sex life with no more pain. My vagina looks and feels normal. I have great lubrication as well, so don't worry there are three other glands that can do this if you take one out. I even horseback ride now which goes to show there is really no more pain. I actually started that two months post-op.

    One thing that really helped me on recovery which I highly recommend is to have a pelvic floor physiotherapist see you weekly a few weeks after the surgery. This will prevent scar tissue formation and ensure everything heals properly. This will help to prevent pain with sex (dyspareunia) I am surprised a how few doctors recommend this. I actually never read this anywhere and my sister had the idea that I go to one. Best idea. Anyways, if you choose excision, be prepared for a crappy recovery but now that I am on the other side I am so thankful I chose this route. My surgeon was very well skilled and I would recommend you get an experienced surgeon. He was rude but I can't complain because he did performed well during the procedure. Also, bring an advocate with you for after the surgery. I didn't and didn't take the correct post-op meds and ended up having to spend the night in the hospital and having a catheter inserted because of swelling.

    My advice: Be brave and don't be scared. You are strong. Many other women have been in your shoes. It is a minor procedure and yes it does suck tremendously but it will all be a memory in a few months if you choose this route. And the home remedies don't work for a persistent cyst. Do pelvic physio if you choose surgery.

    Best of luck and health!

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  • Posted

    Hello everyone!I ve unfortunately had this issue for many years.I am a medical student so i had all the information possible and still could not convince myself to have the excision of the gland.My first cyst appeared 15 years ago.I was treated with antibiotics and it went away.Or so i thought..Anyway,i was lucky to have a 9 year break from these little demons,but as the doctors have said the first time,the cyst returned 6 years ago and it was even worse than the first time.Since then it didnt stop giving a flare up every few months.Antibiotics and a lot of pain were my best friends.I study medicine and i talked with many many doctors and it seems that not everyone wants to perform the excision of the gland which made me even more cautious about my decision.But 3 months ago i decided i couldnt take it anymore and scheduled the operation.I am 2 weeks after my surgery today and though its been a tough one(for the first 6 days the pain was unbearable)i am very very happy that i ve done it.I know i ll be uncomfortable for some time(cant sit properly yet) but its worth it.Its the only way to free yourself from this problem.If you are thinking about having the surgery dont be afraid.It will be hard for the first few days but afterwards it gets better.And you get your life back.Excuse me for my english,its not my mother language.I really wanted to talk about my experience hoping to encourage all the wonderful ladies who suffer from this horrible and very painful health problem.I wish you all a bartholins gland cyst free life!

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