Understanding Breast Cyst Drainage

Cross section of breast with cyst and chest wall.

Breast cyst drainage (aspiration) is a procedure used to remove fluid from a breast cyst. A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms in the breast tissue. You can have one or more cysts in one or both breasts.

Why breast cyst drainage is done

Breast cyst drainage may be done if you have a breast cyst that is large or causes symptoms. These can include pain or soreness in the breast. The procedure may also be done if you have a breast cyst that keeps going away and coming back.

How breast cyst drainage is done

Breast cyst drainage is a quick procedure. It may be done in a healthcare provider’s office, hospital, or radiology center. During the procedure:

  • The skin over the breast is cleaned.

  • The healthcare provider injects a medicine (local anesthetic) into the area. This helps prevent pain during the procedure.

  • When the area is numb, the provider puts a needle into the cyst. He or she then drains the fluid from the cyst into the attached syringe. In some cases, the provider may use imaging methods such as ultrasound. These can help locate and guide the needle into the cyst before it is drained.

  • After the needle and syringe are removed, medical staff will put direct pressure on the injection site to help prevent bleeding. A bandage may then be placed over the site.

  • If needed, a sample of fluid from the cyst (biopsy) is sent to a lab and studied under a microscope. This helps check for cancer and other problems that can occur in the breast.

Risks of breast cyst drainage

  • Pain

  • Infection

  • Too much bruising

  • Bleeding or a collection of blood under the skin (hematoma)

  • Collapsed lung (very rare)