How to Drain the Wound: Pilonidal Surgery Post-Op Instructions

How do I take care of the drain?

You will need to change the gauze dressing covering your wound several times a day especially for the first few days. Use gauze liberally to protect your clothing and furniture. There are white fibrous pieces of tape crossing your incision; these are called Steri-Strips. Leave the Steri-Strips in place as they support your incisicion.

You have a passive drain which looks like a rubber band that extends upwards from the lower part of your incision to a small hole at the top of the flap. It keeps the top hole open so fluid can drain out from under your flap so the flap can stick to the underlying tissue. For the first few days don’t be alarmed if the fluid looks quite bloody. It will become pink and may turn a light yellow over time.

Watch this how-to video to see how to drain the wound, a procedure that you’ll need to do at least two times per day.

Rolling the flap:

For the first 3-4 days after surgery and before your partner rolls, HAVE your partner poke the upper hole with a non-sterile Q-tip around 1 inch under the flap at a shallow angle to make certain that the hole isn’t clogged). 3 times a day for the 7-9 days your drain will be in, someone will need to roll rolled-up gauze up the flap side (the flap is the side with the superior drain hole) to evacuate fluid from under the flap. Please lie down on a firm surface. Have your drain-helper roll from the bottom to the top side of the flap to encourage fluid to drain through the top hole. Don’t be alarmed if there is some fluid that drains from the top of the incision. Don’t try and milk fluid from the lower drain hole. There is no reason to roll on the side opposite the flap.

Please don’t exercise while the drain is in place. Walking is okay. You are allowed to sit on the operative site immediately after surgery (it actually helps push fluid from under the flap).Once the drain is removed, you may begin to exercise, but please don’t place excessive stretch or pressure on your wound (deep squats, athletics where you can get knocked on your back-side) or submerge in water for 1 month after the drain is removed.

After several days the amount of drainage will decrease and you will feel more secure leaving the house and possibly going to work or school.

Removing the Drain

If you are recovering from Pilonidal surgery and you are no longer in the Bay Area on postoperative day 8 to have Dr. Sternberg remove the drain, we’ve produced a short video demonstrating the process so you can do it at home. Watch the Drain Removal video

Patient Instructions and Forms

Download a New Patient History Form, and post-operative instructions for Pilonidal Surgery and General and Colorectal Surgery.

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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Appointment Hours

MonFriday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Weekends: Closed

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