This handout explains the follow‐up care after the surgery for excision of a mucous cyst. If the incision is red or if there is drainage coming out of it, please call us right away at the phone number listed on the bottom of this page. Go to the emergency room if this occurs at a night or on a weekend.

Wound Care:

  • After surgery, your finger and hand will be placed in a bulky dressing (bandage). This will help to protect the incision site and lessen the swelling.
  • You will visit a hand therapist two to three days after surgery. At this time, your finger will be placed into a smaller splint to protect your fingertip and the metal pin that protrudes from the fingertip which stabilizes the joint. The pin was placed through the tip of the finger during surgery to help stabilize the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint.
  • Do not put any lotion or ointment on your wounds.
  • Keep the wound dry for four days by covering your hand with a plastic bag before you shower. After four days, you may be able to shower without covering the incision, but do not soak your hand in a bathtub, hot tub, kitchen sink, swimming pool, etc.
  • Your wrist and palm may swell. Use an ice pack for up to 20 minutes at a time to cover the surgical site to ease the swelling. Make sure that you place a thin cloth between your skin and the ice pack to protect your skin.
  • Elevate your hand as much as possible to lessen the swelling.

Pain Management:

  • You will receive a prescription for narcotic pain medication. Take this with your medication as directed. It is important to “stay ahead” of your pain medication and avoid having to play “catch up” for significant increases in pain. Medication for nausea will also be provided. Please make sure to take this as directed.
  • Please make sure to check with the postoperative nurses and the office staff at Bellevue Bone & Joint Physicians about how to manage your pain medication. To best manage your pain, you must take the pain medication the way it was prescribed. Taking the correct dose at the right time is very important.
  • If you have uncomfortable side effects from the pain medication, please call us at 425-462-9800.
  • Please see “medications after surgery” information form for more instructions.
  • It is normal to have some pain off and on for approximately one year after surgery, particularly in cold weather.


  • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic medications, as it is not safe. Taking medication can make you sleepy and delay your reaction time.
  • Once you are no longer taking narcotic medication, you may drive as soon as you can comfortably grip the steering wheel with both hands.


  • You can use your hand for light activities such as driving, getting dressed, typing, etc. You may also do light aerobic activities as soon as one or two days after surgery. Avoid any heavy lifting such as weightlifting until four weeks after surgery.


  • You will visit the hand therapist two to three days after surgery. At this visit, your wound dressing will be removed and a small removable splint will be fitted for you.
  • When you leave the surgery center, you should have a follow-up appointment for both the therapy appointment, two to three days after surgery, as well as removal of the sutures, 10-14 days after surgery.
  • The sutures are removed at 10-14 days after surgery and at this time, the stabilizing pin in the DIP joint is removed. The pin is smooth and generally can be rotated out without substantial discomfort in the office.


Most patients who have surgery to remove the mucous cyst regain full use of the hand with full return of strength and motion. The deformity in the nail bed, if present, usually corrects within six months after the surgery.

Thomas E. Trumble, M.D.

*Figures courtesy of Principles of Hand Surgery and Therapy by Thomas E. Trumble, MD, Ghazi M. Rayan, MD, Mark E. Baratz, MD and Jeffrey E. Budoff, MD