Abscess incision and drainage

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus surrounded by a wall of tissue. It causes a painful lump and can make you feel unwell. An abscess happens when your body tries to control infection by forming a wall around an infected area. Pus forms within this wall. As the amount of pus increases, the lump grows and causes pain. You can get an abscess anywhere in your body.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should no longer have the abscess and should be free of pain. Surgery should prevent the serious complications that an abscess can cause.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

If an abscess is small, antibiotics may work but will not be effective in most cases. Sometimes draining the pus with a needle can help but the pus may come back.

What does the procedure involve?

A small abscess can be drained under a local anaesthetic, but most need a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. Your surgeon will make a cut on your skin over the abscess. This allows the pus to drain out. Once the pus has been removed, the cavity needs to heal upwards from the inside out, so the opening in your skin is left open. If the cavity is deep, your surgeon will place a pack (antiseptic dressing) in it to keep it open, allowing pus to drain out and your wound to heal properly.

What complications can happen?

Like all surgical procedures, there are some complications that can be serious and can even cause death. Please bear in mind the general and specific complications regarding this type of operation.

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring of your skin
  • Blood clot in your leg
  • Blood clot in your lung

Specific complications of this operation

  • The abscess keeps coming back
  • Slow healing, if your wound was packed

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after. Depending on your recovery after the operation, your doctor will tell you when you can return to work. However, most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities.


An abscess is a collection of pus that can make you feel unwell. Surgery should prevent the serious complications that an abscess can cause. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.


Authors: Mr Ayan Banerjea FRCS (Gen. Surg.), Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)

Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com


Abscess drainage or blood clot collection

Patient pathway Initial consultation Main treatment Post discharge care Total
Hospital fees N/A £1,764 Included £1,764
Consultants fees £200 Included Included £200
Total £1,964
Initial consultation
Hospital fees N/A
Consultants fees £200
Main treatment
Hospital fees £1,764
Consultants fees Included
Post discharge care
Hospital fees Included
Consultants fees Included
Total £1,964

Terms & Conditions

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