Pilonidal Disease: An Illustrated Guide to Surgery and Treatment

Learn about Pilonidal Disease and how to treat it with the Cleft Lift procedure in this illustrated video by Dr. Jeffrey Sternberg, MD, FACS, FASCRS of The Sternberg Clinic for Pilonidal Disease in San Francisco, California.

About the Video

Part One: What Causes Pilonidal Disease?

Pilonidal Disease is often caused by an initial trauma or injury to the bottom or tailbone. People with a deep cleft in their buttocks are more likely to develop Pilonidal Disease. Hair and debris enter the hole and lead to infections that cause an abscess to form. The sinus can erupts on the surface of your butt cheek, draining fluid and puss.

Part Two: How Do You Treat Pilonidal Disease?

It’s not a cyst! Pilonidal Disease is an abscess that forms under the skin and drains through a sinus. Surgeons who treat Pilonidal Disease like a cyst may make it worse, with high recurrence rates. Long recovery times can last months and even years often requiring more surgery

Part Three and Four: Introducing the Cleft Lift Procedure. How surgery is done

Instead of removing a large amount of tissue, the Cleft Lift procedure reconstructs the area to prevent recurrence and future infection. This outpatient procedure takes just an hour or so and heals in a few weeks for most patients.

An island of skin is removed from one side of the cleft as the cleft will be made more shallow and there would be excess skin otherwise. The healthy skin is re-attached after the infected area is cleaned out.

Part Five: Reconstructing a Shallow Cleft

The procedure creates a more shallow curvature of the buttocks helping to prevent recurrence and future infections. A drain is left in after surgery to empty fluid from under the flap as it heals. The low maintenance drain stays in place until the drainage is low for 2 days in a row — usually 7-10 days.

Part Six: The Road to Recovery

After the drain is removed patients are usually healthy enough to resume most exercise and normal activities. Out of nearly 1,500 Cleft Lift surgeries performed, less than 1 percent of patients had a recurrence, and few require follow up care.

Read more about Pilonidal Disease and explore the extensive article library and patient testimonial blog on our website.

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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Contact our San Francisco Office

To learn more about treating your Pilonidal Disease with surgery and the Cleft Lift procedure, contact our office staff for information or to schedule an appointment.

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Member of ASCRS, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation,
American College of Surgeons, and Pilonidal Support Alliance