When Should You Get Surgery on a Ganglion Cyst?

Surgically removing a ganglion cyst is recommended when it interferes with movement, is painful, or causes numbness or tingling of the hand or fingers, according to WebMD. Surgically removing a ganglion cyst is recommended when it grows too large or can't be treated effectively by other options, such as aspiration, according to Healthline, or when it returns after aspiration or is unsightly, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Ganglion cysts are common and harmless, according to the AAOS, and may not need any treatment at all. They may come and go quickly, and they can grow or shrink on their own. Non-medical treatment includes waiting for it to shrink on its own under observation and immobilizing the joint with a splint to keep it from increasing in size, as stated by the AAOS.

Aspiration, or withdrawing fluid from the cyst with a needle, is the first medical intervention of choice. Cysts may return after aspiration, and if they return three or more times, the success rate drops to between 30 and 50 percent, according to WebMD. Cysts don't tend to return after surgery because the entire cyst structure, including the "root" that supports the cyst, is removed, but there is still a small chance they can return, according to the AAOS.