What Is It Like to Recover from Pilonidal Cyst Surgery?

Middle aged man driving a truck

Over 200,000 people are affected by pilonidal cysts each year. A pilonidal cyst is a bump that forms in the crease of the buttocks.  It causes pain, swelling, and may include drainage of pus if it forms an abscess. There are nonsurgical treatments for these cysts, including antibiotics and local wound care, but some patients require a surgical treatment for more advanced symptoms.

Traditional surgical treatment for pilonidal cysts has required a lengthy, painful recovery time. However, thanks to the cleft lift technique utilized by Dr. Laurence Rosenberg, at Southeastern Plastic Surgery, recovery from pilonidal cyst surgery is quick and relatively painless.

Traditional Surgery versus Cleft Lift Surgery

At Southeastern Plastic Surgery in Tallahassee, FL, Dr. Laurence Rosenberg performs the cleft lift procedure to treat pilonidal cysts in order to reduce pain and recovery so that patient can return to their normal lives as quickly as possible. The recovery from cleft lift operation is quick, with substantially less pain then with traditional surgical techniques.  Unlike the recovery from traditional pilonidal cyst surgery, the cleft lift operation ends with a closed wound – there is no wound packing.

Cleft lift surgery has only a 5% recurrence rate for cysts, whereas traditional pilonidal cyst surgery has a recurrence rate of more than 50%.

Traditional surgery for pilonidal cysts involves excising the wound then packing it with gauze. Recovery from this type of surgery can take weeks or months to heal, is extremely painful, and often results in a recurrence.

Cleft lift surgery is an outpatient surgery that only requires about 1 hour to perform. The wound is excised and closed, requiring no packing. Patients are able to return home the same day, and recovery is relatively quick. The wound is fully sutured and closed, using dissolvable sutures, requiring no packing, and the scar is moved off the midline so that recurrence of cysts and pain are minimized.

How Quickly Can You Sit After Cleft Lift Surgery?

Since cleft lift surgery is an outpatient procedure, patients are able to return home the same day as surgery. They are able to sit and ride home in a car immediately after cleft lift surgery.

How Soon Can You Drive After Surgery?

You are allowed to drive once you stop taking narcotic pain medications. The sutures will dissolve after a few weeks, so there is no need to return to the doctor to have them removed.

Is Recovery Painful?

Recovery from cleft lift surgery can be painful, but we provide medications to help manage pain after surgery. Some patients find the recovery relatively easy, while others find it to be painful, but all patients who have had traditional pilonidal cyst surgery feel the cleft lift operation recovery is significantly less painful than the traditional surgery.

Follow the instructions provided by your surgeon for post-operative care and give yourself time to heal after the procedure so that your body has a chance to fully recover. Within 2 weeks or less, you should be able to return to your normal routine.

Dr. Rosenberg usually sees patients for 1 to 2 follow-up visits after surgery. For out of town patients, he communicates with them via e-mail. He is available to answer questions and check in on your recovery.

Dr. Rosenberg is the only surgeon in the Tallahassee area who performs the cleft lift procedure to treat pilonidal cysts. If you would like to learn more about the cleft lift treatment for pilonidal cyst disease at our Tallahassee plastic surgery practice, please request a consultation or call (850) 219-2000.

22 Responses to What Is It Like to Recover from Pilonidal Cyst Surgery?

  • Dale Simmons says:

    Hello my Daughter has been diagnosed with this and has taken medication to resolve it but it has returned again I would like to know the price of the surgery if insurance doesn’t cover she is under BCBS high mark and will it cover with a referral from family Doctor

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      Thank you for your inquiry. Insurance has never given us a problem about covering this operation. Blue Cross usually does not require a referral. Please contact the practice at (850) 219-2000 to schedule a consultation. We can provide an estimate after a consultation. – Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      The sutures placed in the cleft lift operation are absorbable. There are sutures on the inside, and on the outside. Please contact the practice at (850) 219-2000 to schedule a consultation and to get more information. – Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Brenda says:

    I had the cyst surgery in May and although the surgery has healed it is still a super sensitive area… BMs are a lot harder for me as well, I feel a lot of pressure when the incision is, is this normal after 6 months?

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      It is unusual to have a change in bowel movements, and I would recommend a stool softener. With regards to the incision being super sensitive, that is normal, but I strongly recommend you contact the physician who did the surgery, and have them look at it.

      Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Chris Craddick says:

    Had procedure done several times and it continues to heal and form large scar tissue . It hurts more now but Dr doesn’t want to cut it out. Why? Hurts and is physical, mentally and emotionally draining.

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      It is hard to say why. I would need to examine you, and that would help give me a better understanding. Sometimes doctors don’t want to reportage because it is very challenging, and the patient can end up in the same position as before surgery.

      I’m happy to see and evaluate you. We can also set up a Tele health conference if you like. – Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Probertson says:

    My daughter had this done. She is 6 weeks post op and has had slight tearing. Doctor feels the area is too moist due to sweating and the incision isn’t healing as quickly as expected. He wants her to keep gauze in place and prescribed a med for “possible” fungus. Is all this a common set back? And is the prognosis still favorable?

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      This certainly can be normal, especially the moisture part. It will likely go on to heal well, but it is difficult for me to say without examining her.

      Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Tysee says:

    My husband has had the traditional surgery and it has continued to come back now every few weeks after a round of Clindamycin. His surgeon has cut there several times to release some infection. Yet, he just missed a whole week of work due to this same issue. I feel so sorry for him having had this supposedly corrected but it keeps coming back. He needs help!!

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      Unfortunately this can happen after traditional pilonidal cyst surgery. It is a really difficult problem, and usually it does not occur. When it does happen, sometimes a different type of surgery is necessary. I am happy to look at pictures of your husband, and talk to you about what I think could be done to make him better. Please contact my practice at (850) 219-2000 to schedule a consultation. – Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Latresae Brown says:

    I had the surgery about 6or 7 years ago now all of a sudden it’s swollen and it’s so sore can you tell me why

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      Unfortunately, it is likely that you have a recurrence. I would see your primary care physician, if it is painful, or red as it is likely you will need antibiotics. Sometimes you can have a single flare-up, and sometimes it can become chronic and you may need surgery.

      Thanks, Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Joe hancock says:

    I am 38 yrs old and have been dealing with this for 20 yrs. I’m in Louisville. I have been to several surgeons who won’t do the traditional surgery due to low percentage of effectiveness. For the last six months I am head continual drainage end it can be quite embarrassing. I have another doctor appointment on March 8. Do you know of anyone in this area that completes this operation? If not is there something I should bring up to this doctor as far as options moving forward. I am tired of dealing with this. Thank you for any help you might be able to give.

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      I am sorry you have had this going on for 20 years. I do not know of anyone in Louisville who does this surgery.

      Most importantly, I would make sure you don’t have “excision and packing.”

      Thanks, Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Josh says:

    I had the cleft lift surgery 7 days ago. At day 5-1/2 general pain and tenderness started. Is this typical? Maybe nerves repairing themselves and just now causing the pain?

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      I do not believe you had your surgery with me, so you definitely should speak with your surgeon.

      What you describe certainly could be normal, especially if you are becoming more active.

      Thanks, Dr. Laurence Rosenberg

  • Carolina says:

    Hi I have a question. I had my surgery in december 15, 2020 but in January 1st 2021 it teared a little and caused infection. I have now fixed the problem and the wound has been closed for 2 months but since the tearing I have not sit down because I’m afraid it will tear open again. When do you think I will be able to sit down again?

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      That is an interesting question, and problem. The goal of the surgery is for you to have a normal quality of life. If sitting were to cause such a problem and opening up the wound, a different solution needs to be found.

      Thanks, Laurence Rosenberg, MD

  • Goran says:

    On March 22, 2021 I had a very minimal amount of discomfort sitting (getting seated when pressure was on my tailbone). I saw my PCP who diagnosed me with a Pilonidal Cyst. There is no lump anywhere just two holes that drained for 3 days. 2 weeks later hairs poked out, 15-20 hairs all together my fiance pulled out with no accompanied pus or blood.

    My PCP advised me only to keep the area clean, dry and remove hairs locally – preferably by laser hair removal. She advised it may be a acute event and that these holes may heal up and close.

    Online stories people post that I have read indicate you always need surgery, should I be concerned?

    • Southeastern Plastic Surgery says:

      Good morning,

      One does not always need surgery. If this resolves the problem, and you never have another problem – i.e. infection, then you are in an excellent position.

      If it recurs, especially more than once, then you’re more likely to benefit from surgery…

      Thanks, Laurence Rosenberg, MD

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