‘I did not ask a girl out on a date in fear of her finding out about this problem’

At 15 years old, I felt a bump at the top of my butt crack. I was not sure what it was so I went to our pediatrician. He told me it was hemorrhoids. So for a few months, I treated it as a hemorrhoid. It did not go away. I learned it was Pilonidal Disease. Then I went to a specialist and suffered through two years of procedures. Each procedure made my pilonidal cyst worse. First, I was sent to a dermatologist to laser the area. The dermatologist told me I didn’t need surgery. He cleaned out the cyst and lasered the hair. We were told there was a six week cycle for hair growth. Each time I came back for hair lasering, he cleaned out the cyst and told me it would heal on its own. It did not. More than one and a half years had gone by before any actual surgery was performed to resolve the Pilonidal Disease. I had an operation to remove the pilonidal lesion and the doctor closed it with fibrin glue.

The doctor told me that the fibrin glue procedure had a 90% chance of working. A week after the first procedure was done, the cyst become infected and opened up. At no time before or after the fibrin glue procedure was performed did the doctor do a culture of the cyst to see if there was a bacterial infection. I was really upset and started researching procedures used in Pilonidal Disease. I learned at that point fibrin glue procedure is only used in mild cases of Pilonidal Disease. By the time I had the operation with fibrin glue, the Pilonidal Disease had become very aggressive, which caused a second hole to open up. But the doctor reassured me that this procedure was the right one and I should have it done again and he was sure that it would work well for the second time. Once again, the procedure failed and a third hole opened up above my anus. This was even more upsetting to me. I called the doctor and talked to him about what was happening and asked what he planned for the next step to resolve my issues.

Since I was so upset, I began researching Pilonidal Disease, the procedures used to treat it, and the doctors that specialized in it. I asked about the Bascom procedure. He warned me that the Bascom procedure was much more invasive. I researched the Bascom method in more detail and then contacted Dr. Bascom himself. He told me the recovery time for the procedure was four weeks and had a very low rate of recurrence. He recommended that I speak to Dr. Sternberg in San Francisco. I spoke to Dr. Sternberg, who was trained by Dr. Bascom, and decided to have the Bascom procedure performed by Dr. Stenberg in San Francisco. Dr. Stenberg told me that the surgery would take about an hour. But after the surgery he told me that due to the advanced progression of the disease in the prior year and a half the surgery and cleanup was much more involved and took three hours. This was primarily due to the development of a large abscess by my anus that had to be repaired during surgery. Even after the first operation, I needed I still had to return to Dr. Stenberg to remove more of the pilonidal cyst. I had three in operations with Dr Stenberg.

I am glad to say that I have been free of Pilonidal Disease now for over a year. The four years that I lived with Pilonidal Disease caused me both physical and emotional harm. I had three exit holes in my butt. The smell from the puss that stained my pants was very embarrassing. I had to wear sanitary napkins to high school. At sleep away camp, the other boys found the sanitary napkins and stuck them around my room. I did not ask a girl out on a date in fear of her finding out about this problem. I am glad to say my life is much better now and this unfortunate experience is behind me now. Thank you Dr. Stenberg for freeing me of this pain and embarrassment.

– Ethan A.

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