Dr. Winkler using a surgical laser to remove this mass from a dog’s ear without bleeding.

Lumps & Bumps Skin Growth Care

Cutaneous Cysts, Sebaceous Cysts, Skin Tags, And Sebaceous Gland Tumors

Cutaneous cysts are abnormal sac-like structures in the skin that occur commonly in dogs, and uncommonly in cats. These cysts may be congenital (present at birth), or hereditary (inherited) in certain breeds. The reasons for cutaneous cyst formation include displacement of skin-forming cells, absence or obstruction of hair follicles, and obstruction of oil gland ducts.

Sebaceous cysts arise from oil glands in the skin. Much like a zit, they contain a grayish to whitish-brown, cheesy material, and first appear as small bumps or nodules. With time, they may become quite large and inflamed, infected, painful, or itchy. Several cysts may develop in one area of the skin to create a larger cyst. Sebaceous cysts should not be squeezed, as the cyst contents may be forced into the surrounding tissues and cause infection.

A skin tag, or fibroepithelial cyst, is a small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases, such as the neck, armpit, and groin. They may also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. Skin tags are harmless and typically painless, and do not grow or change over time. Though skin tags up to a half-inch long have been seen, they are typically small in size. The surface of a skin tag may be smooth or irregular in appearance, and is often raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. Microscopically, a skin tag consists of a fibro-vascular core, sometimes also with fat cells, covered by an unremarkable epidermis. However, skin tags may become irritated by licking, chewing, walking, or rubbing.

Sebaceous Gland Tumors are commonly found on the skin of older dogs. They occur more frequently in males, and their cause is unknown. There may be one or several of these growths, and they are usually small, but can grow bigger over time. These tumors are usually not cancerous, and surgical removal is usually successful in a majority of cases.

Laser surgery removal of skin growths is recommended if the growth is repeatedly traumatized for any reason, is causing your pet discomfort, changes and grows in size, or if you feel the growth is cosmetically unacceptable. Such factors as number, location, size of the growths, and age and general health of your pet are considered in deciding whether to do laser surgery. Laser surgery is safe and effective, and reduces or eliminates bleeding, swelling, and pain. Most growth removals can be done as out-patient or same day surgery, without an overnight stay. Depending upon your pet’s temperament, it may even be possible to do the procedure using local anesthetics during their examination visit instead of requiring hospitalization for general anesthesia, thus reducing your pet’s anesthesia exposure and risk.

After laser surgery you’ll need to check the surgical site at least once daily, and report any abnormalities to the Veterinarian. We require that all patients who have undergone a laser surgery procedure schedule and appear for a follow-up examination within at least 14 days from the date of discharge, just to ensure that your pet is healing properly and so that we can address all your concerns in a timely manner.

A very small percentage of laser surgery treated benign skin growths will require a second treatment in 6 to 12 months after the initial surgery. Although every effort is made to remove the entire growth during the first surgery, re-growth can occur. When re-growth occurs you will notice that instead of a flat scar, an elevated, usually smooth, bump that protrudes from the laser surgery site. If you notice this, or any other lumps and bumps on your pet, please schedule an examination appointment as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about our services, please contact us today at (631) 696-2400.