I received an email in the recent past from a mother who told the story of her teen age son and the emotional toll his failed pilonidal treatments had taken on him and his family. Bill went through high school dealing with the annoying drainage, smell, and embarrassing staining. After graduation, he wanted to be done with his pilonidal cyst problem ad met with a reputable surgeon in his rural town. The surgeon felt comfortable performing an excisional operation on Bill and explained that he did similar such operations frequently. All will be fine.
The surgeon told Bill’s mother that the operation went well and that he “got everything”. The incision was closed, and no packing was required.
A month or so later, Bill began to experience, pain and swelling at the incision site and noticed a foul-smelling discharge. A wound opened up closer to the anus than the original problem had been. The surgeon cleaned out the wound, cauterized it and told Bill and his Mom that it should heal.
But the wound didn’t heal, and several months later, where Bill had one wound, he now had multiple holes along the entire length of his natal cleft. Bill’s original surgeon no longer felt comfortable treating this and referred him to a wound care clinic. Bill’s Mom panicked and thought of withdrawing him from his freshman year of college. And then, in a moment of clarity, she did some research and chose to arrange a trip to San Francisco to meet with Dr. Sternberg.
Over the phone, we gave Bill and his Mom some simple wound care pointers, and Bill was able to finish out the semester and arrange a trip to San Francisco for a consultation and surgery. Dr. Sternberg performed a cleft lift procedure on Bill during one of his school breaks. Bill healed up quickly and was able to enjoy his vacation and return to school at the start of the next semester with no restrictions.
So, if you or your loved one encounters a seemingly hopeless pilonidal issue with or without prior surgery, please don’t lose hope. Do some research and find an experienced surgeon and get your life back.