Liz’s Story: ‘No one should have to go through this’

We received a letter this month from a patient of The Sternberg Clinic who has successfully recovered from Pilonidal Disease after undergoing the Cleft Lift procedure at The Sternberg Clinic for Pilonidal Surgery. Read her story:

What started off as something that seemed simple to correct, turned in to the worst experience of my life. 

Referred to a general surgeon, I went in for surgery in August 2018 to have a pilonidal cyst removed; or at least that had been the diagnosis. At the first check up visit, we knew something was wrong. The doctor had done a “flap” procedure leaving a treasure map of stitches and incision marks covering most of my gluteus. The next three months resulted in weekly doctor visits, wound care appointments, packing of wounds, wound vacs and endless frustration and tears. Little did we know that the wound had gone staph causing many other symptoms leaving me so sick. 

The second surgeon recognized immediately that this would not close on its own so back into surgery we went. This surgery, December 2018, uncovered more cystic activity and of course the staph infection. After a few days in the hospital, I was released to finish my recovery at home. By New Years, the wound was beginning to tunnel and my mom, aka my nurse, knew we were in trouble. 

Surgery #3 took place in January 2019 and surgery #4 was soon to follow in February with this surgeon doing everything he knew to do to help us. When surgery #4 began to tunnel, we sought a second opinion as to if this was really a pilonidal cyst. Meeting with a colorectal doctor, we learned that in fact this was pilonidal disease. This doctor suggested that we just leave it be, that I would outgrow it eventually; probably by the time I reach 40 – I am just barely 21! But now we had the right diagnosis and that led us straight to Dr. Sternberg, opinion #3.

We were able to get in for an initial appointment within days of contacting Dr. Sternberg’s office. His staff was so helpful and understanding of our situation. Upon consultation, Dr. Sternberg commented that I was one of the most challenging cases he had ever seen. My treasure map of a backside had been cut in to and the scaring was awful not to mention the open gaping hole in the middle of it. 

A month later, July 2019, Dr. Sternberg performed surgery and removed much of the disease. Because the first surgery had gone so wrong, there were pockets of disease hiding off to the side that was hindering my healing. Dr. Sternberg was able to remove all the disease in a second surgery, September 2019. My recovery was a breeze and the healing came almost immediately. My treasure map is no more, Dr. Sternberg was able to pull the skin leaving me map free. 

Thanks to Dr. Sternberg I have my life back. Six surgeries in 15 months takes a big toll. But I am back in school, holding down two jobs and I feel amazing. To think that without Dr. Sternberg, this could have gone on for years as other doctors were guessing but Dr. Sternberg knew what to do and fixed me. 

I am forever grateful for Dr. Sternberg!

Meet Your Surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Sternberg

After many years performing major abdominal operations including open and laparoscopic resections for colon cancer, rectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative colitis, I have chosen to concentrate my efforts in a few highly specialized areas of surgery where I feel I can make the greatest positive impact on patients.

More on my Training and Experience

Patient Testimonials: The Blog

Read success stories from surgery patients


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