Mucocele – A painless lip bump
A common procedure that I perform at my office is the surgical removal of a mucocele. This smooth, raised, painless bump is typically found on the inner “wet” surface (mucosa) of the lower lip. Other areas where they can appear include the upper lip mucosa, mucosa of the cheeks, or mucosa under the tongue.
The usual history involves some trauma to the area, such as accidentally biting the lip. This injury can disrupt one of the many minor salivary glands in the lip and cause saliva to collect inside the lip instead of being ejected into the mouth. As a result, a fluid filled bump can be felt by the patient and appears smooth and translucent upon examination of the lip.
Although mucoceles are typically painless, they can cause the lip to appear uneven and discolored. They can also cause difficulty chewing and talking by protruding into the mouth.
Mucoceles can resolve spontaneously and disappear on their own, or they may continue to get larger and larger until the lip becomes quite disfigured. They can also fluctuate in size, getting larger before decompressing and then increasing in size again.
The surgical removal of a mucocele involves numbing up the area with local anesthetic and then making an incision to scoop out the lesion and associated minor salivary gland. The wound is then washed with saline and sutured closed with some self dissolving stitches. The most common side effect from mucocele removal is recurrence, and in some cases further surgery is required.
While most mucoceles can be recognized clinically due to their characteristic look, the final definitive diagnosis can only be made after evaluation under a microscope by a pathologist. This is an important step in ruling out any other possible disease process.
Once the suspected mucocele is removed, I always place it in a biopsy specimen jar and send it to the pathology lab for evaluation. If the diagnosis is in fact a mucocele as expected, no further treatment is required.
To your health and prosperity,
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