Get the Right Care

Types of Surgeries

Incision and Drainage / Clinical Lancing - Abscess Draining Surgery


In the most general terms, an abscess is just a painful mass/collection of pus, usually caused by a bacterial infection. Abscesses can develop anywhere on the body. We generally focus on abscesses that develop under the skin, in the anorectal area, and the breasts. We do perform abscess drainage surgeries in other areas, but further inquiries with our team of surgeons is necessary to proceed.

Symptoms of an abscess include:

Cutaneous (skin) abscess:

  • Swollen, pus-filled lump protruding from the skin.

  • Infection.

  • Fever, fatigue, chills, or night sweats.

  • Pain in the affected area.

Anal abscess:

  • Lump of hardened tissue near the anus.

  • Pain or discomfort near the anus or buttocks.

  • Fever, fatigue, chills, or night sweats.

  • Constipation or painful bowel movements.

  • Pain in the lower abdomen.

Breast abscess:

  • Swollen, pus-filled lump protruding from the breast.

  • Pain, warmth, and redness in the affected area.

  • Fever, fatigue, chills, or night sweats.

  • Nipple discharge.

  • Low milk production.


If left untreated, an abscess can spark an infection that can spread throughout your body. It can even lead to life-threatening conditions. If an abscess refuses to go away on its own, surgical treatment may be necessary.

All surgeries, whether they be big or small, carry risks. For an abscess draining, these typically include:


Risks of Surgery

  • Common complications include nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, sore throat, and headaches.
  • More severe complications include heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, and blood clots.
  • Infection of the surgical site.
  • Development of painful keloids (a thickened scar).
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Pain, swelling, itchiness or tenderness at the site of incision.
  • Loss of sensation surrounding the surgical area if nerve endings need to be cut. This may be temporary or permanent depending on the damage.
  • Recurrence of the abscess after surgery.
  • For anal abscesses, the development of anal fistulas post op.

Abscess drainage is a minor kind of surgery, and is done on an outpatient basis (you will be able to go home after the surgery is completed). Before your surgery, a nurse or doctor will plan the site, clean the affected area, and consult with you for any questions you may have. Then, they will numb the area using a local anesthetic so that you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure.

The procedure itself can last anywhere between a few minutes to an hour depending on the size of the abscess at the time of surgery. Typically, your doctor will give you a heads up on how long the procedure should last.

The procedure

The abscess draining procedure proceeds as follows:

  1. An incision is made through the skin over the abscess.

  2. Light pressure is applied to drain the abscess pocket.

  3. After all the pus is drained out, a sterile saline solution is used to clean out the pocket.

  4. Larger abscesses may require gauze to be placed inside to keep the abscess open. This helps the healing process while absorbing extant blood and pus.

After the procedure

Recovery time for an abscess draining will vary, but you should feel back to normal within a few days to weeks. Be sure to keep the area clean and dry to avoid the possibility of infection. Itchiness or soreness is common, however let your doctor know if you experience swelling or excessive pain.

You will need to arrange for a ride home the day of your surgery and we recommend someone stay with you for the first 24 hours at home. When you leave the facility after surgery, we will want you to go home and rest. Avoid making any other plans on the day of your surgery. Starting the following day, you can increase your activity as you feel up to it.

You will likely be given a prescription for pain medication following your surgery. The recovery nurse will discuss a pain control plan following surgery specific to you and your needs including activities like ice applied over incisions and a medication regimen. Oftentimes we will recommend taking Tylenol and Advil (same as Motrin, Ibuprofen) or Aleve in addition to the narcotic pain medication.

Did you know we have a support group?

Your questions and concerns have most likely been asked and answered in our support group. Moderated by our dietitian's, nurses, and staff. We provide you with reliable patient education and resources to help you throughout this life-changing process.