I am on a mission to educate patients and the surgical community

Many surgeons choose to treat pilonidal patients with disfiguring, wide-excisional operations hoping to completely remove the elusive cyst.

The problem is that many of these radical operations for pilonidal disease: 1) often don’t work and can lead to a recurrence as they fail to shallow the cleft, eliminate dead space under the skin surface, and don’t lateralize the incision, and 2) even if they eventually fix the problem, often the recovery is long and requires extensive wound care which is often miserable for the patient and his/her caregiver. If these operations fail, they often make the problem worse. Moreover, few surgeons want to tackle pilonidal disease. Even fewer care to operate on patients that have failed surgery from other surgeons.  

When I started my Colon and Rectal Surgery fellowship in 1999, I was reluctant to treat patients with Pilonidal Disease as I had seen the product of many radical procedures during my training. The turning point came during my fellowship when I expressed this concern to a mentor who knew of “a better way” to treat the disease, and he invited me to learn from him.

Through my fellowship experience and visits with father-son surgeons John and Tom Bascom (John was the developer of the Cleft Lift Procedure), I learned that the Cleft Lift technique made sense and worked.  It was a true game changer. I performed hundreds of Cleft Lift Procedures over the following decade and increasingly difficult cases obliged me to innovate variations and my technique has evolved over time and continues to do so. 

I am convinced that the Cleft Lift Procedure is the best procedure for all forms of pilonidal disease requiring surgery.  I have performed more than 1,500 cases since 2000.  While it’s impossible to have perfect results, I have been able to make the Cleft Lift Procedure quite reliable and have less than a 1% reoperation rate.  For those patients who did require a second operation, so far, they are all cured.  So, the Cleft Lift Procedure seems to be a curative operation.

So why do I want to operate on patients with difficult pilonidal problems? 1) I truly am gratified when I am able improve a patient’s quality of life, and 2) the operation that I perform cures almost every patient, even when they’ve failed prior surgical attempts.  It gives patients their life back!

I am committed to helping cure pilonidal patients of their disease, and, in the long run, wish to change the way other doctors treat patients with pilonidal disease as I strongly feel that we surgeons need to do a better job in the way we treat patients with pilonidal disease.  I am committed to helping teach and disseminate this technique.

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