Surgeons, Don’t Do That. Please!

Lori is a vibrant woman in her 20s who lives in the Southwest of the United Sates.  In her late teens she began to develop Pilonidal Disease.  Abscesses would flare a few times a year.  They would swell, pop, and drain.  She never needed to go to an emergency room or an urgent care to have the abscess drained.  Two years ago, the abscess began to occur more frequently.  Lori finally decided to meet with a surgeon to get this situation resolved.  He advised an operation and told Lori that it was not a big deal and would resolve her small pilonidal issue.

Well, Lori underwent the first operation.  No big deal, right.  Wrong!  It was a big excisional procedure that turned a small issue into a bigger one.  That operation didn’t work and, in several weeks, she had a weeping, non-heling wound.  Sitting was difficult.  Lori had to wear a thick wad of gauze in her underwear to prevent the wound drainage from seeping through her pants.  The smell was noticeable to her family and friends.  She was unable to exercise or socialize.  The surgeon said that this issue was due to an infected cyst and that he likely didn’t remove enough tissue.  He seemed confident and experienced.  Lori agreed to go ahead with another operation.  After all, things couldn’t get worse.

Well, Lori was wrong.  Things got much worse!  Within a week of surgery, two large wounds opened up and brownish, smelly drainage was a constant occurrence.  Thru COVID she struggled to sit down.  She couldn’t exercise.  Life was miserable.

After much research Lori and her family traveled to San Francisco to meet with me at The Sternberg Clinic.  By now, her wound was colonized with a difficult to treat bacteria.  After consultation, we decided to perform a cleft lift procedure.  During positioning for surgery, her entire former wound split open to reveal a “fist-sized” cavity filled with infected material.  Despite this the Cleft Lift Procedure went well.  Her skin was closed during the operation.  It was the first time she didn’t have an open wound in the last two years.  Lori went home two days later.  She’s now a month out from surgery and feeling well.  She began to exercise and sit comfortably for the first time in two years.  The Cleft Lift Procedure gave her a life back.

Surgeons, please stop performing operations that are unlikely to work.  Off midline closure procedures for pilonidal disease have been shown to be the most effective surgical treatments for pilonidal disease.  Learn how to perform the Cleft Lift Procedure.  Learn from an experienced surgeon.  You will understand how gratifying helping patients suffering from pilonidal disease can be.

Dr. Jeffrey Sternberg, MD, FACS, FASCRS

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.

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