Why Travel for Pilonidal Surgery?

Most people plan to have their medical care locally.  Sometimes, however, seemingly simple problems require the care of a specialist and that specialist may not be close by.  And, for some medical conditions, only a handful of national specialists exist. Such is the case with pilonidal disease (often called a pilonidal cyst).

If you’re suffering from pilonidal disease/pilonidal cyst disease and are considering surgery, you should choose your surgeon very carefully.  Find someone who is experienced in performing the Cleft Lift Procedure, which is, arguably, the best procedure curing pilonidal cysts/pilonidal disease requiring surgery.

“If you can travel to San Francisco to dine at a fine restaurant or see a show, you can certainly travel to San Francisco to improve your life!”― Patient at The Sternberg Clinic

View our recommended itinerary

Why it may be important to travel for your pilonidal surgery

It is important that you have the right procedure done the first time. Most medical practitioners don’t understand the optimal treatment for pilonidal disease, and many have little interest in the disease because it has been so difficult to treat in the past.  Few surgeons know about the Cleft Lift procedure, and many who claim to perform the procedure have minimal experience with it.  The Cleft Lift procedure is arguably the treatment of choice for pilonidal disease requiring surgery.  Rather than undergoing an inadequate operation and developing a recurrent abscess, you are better off consulting a surgeon who has experience treating difficult pilonidal disease.  Remember, only a handful of surgeons in the United States really have significant experience with the cleft lift procedure.

Related Reading: Tips for Interviewing a Surgeon

Making surgery in San Francisco work (and possibly in NYC late 2020):

If you live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area you should contact Dr. Sternberg prior to making an appointment. Please email info@thesternbergclinic.com  a concise history of your story (with an emphasis on your pilonidal condition) well in advance of your trip (see the instructions below). If you have any significant medical issues (e.g. Asthma, high blood pressure, heart issues, kidney issues, obesity, diabetes….) you should have a history and physical exam from your local primary doctor prior to traveling to San Francisco but within one month of your scheduled surgery. Dr. Sternberg’s office will assist your medical clearance if needed.

Download and Print the New Patient Questionnaire

Here are the instructions for arranging your consultation and surgery if you live far away: Please make the history brief (bulleted points are best) and make sure to answer the following questions:

  • How old are you and what’s your date of birth?
  • Where do you live?
  • What’s your home address (should be the one associated with your insurance card)
  • What’s your cell phone and the cell phone number (and name, relationship) of your contact person who will be traveling with you?
  • Who is your pediatrician or primary care doctor (include address and phone number)?
  • If you’ve had surgery for pilonidal disease, who was your surgeon (address and phone number) and did your surgeon suggest that you contact me?
  • When did you first notice the condition (month, year)?
  • Have you required any office or emergency room drainage procedures, and how many?
  • Have you required operations in an operating room? How many, and when? If so, were the incisions closed or left open requiring packing?
  • How long did you require wound care?
  • Have you ever had a ‘Wound Vac’? For how long?
  • Very Important: have you been on more than one course of antibiotics in the last year for your pilonidal problem?  If yes, do you have an open or persistently draining wound? If yes, you will need to have a bacterial culture with sensitivities of the wound performed (within two months of your scheduled surgery) and sent to us at least two weeks before your trip.

Also include:

  • A list of any other operations you have had
  • Any medical conditions you have
  • A list of your medications
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Your accurate height and weight.  No cheating, please.  Accuracy is essential as If your BMI is close to or greater than 40, It may influence which facility we can perform your surgery at.  Here’s a link to a BMI calculator.
  • A copy of the front and back of your Insurance Card

Please attach to the email 2 photos taken by someone who can see your bottom. Yes, another person: no cheating. It’s impossible for you to take adequate photos. For instructions on how to take the proper photos, please click here.

Send this to: info@thesternbergclinic.com

How to Become a Patient

If you’re looking for a surgeon to treat your Pilonidal Disease, read more about how to become a patient at The Sternberg Clinic, and contact our office staff to schedule an appointment.

How will this all play out?

If you are traveling to consult with Dr. Sternberg the office staff will arrange a visit a day or so before your scheduled surgical procedure.  The procedure is an outpatient operation, and you should arrange comfortable accommodations in San Francisco proper (or Manhattan if scheduling there).  Staying farther away is not advised as a long car ride immediately after surgery can lead to discomfort and increase your chance of having postoperative complications. In addition, Dr. Sternberg will want to meet with you and the person helping you with the drain on the day following surgery. So, staying close by is really important. Excellent hotel accommodations are available in San Francisco and Manhattan. Airbnb is another excellent option.

Please remember, the staff of The Sternberg Clinic (415.417.3377) will be your point of contact for everything.  Please speak with them if you require more information or need to cancel or change your travel.  Please do not call the surgery center directly.

Be Careful When in San Francisco

San Francisco is a beautiful world-class city that has many great sites and neighborhoods to explore.  Unfortunately, San Francisco also has some ugly problems.  It’s best to look at these issues as part of the experience.  

Homelessness and on-street drug use problems are, quite unfortunately, very visible in San Francisco even in seemingly nice and well-traveled areas.  Please look at maps of San Francisco before embarking on a walk.  Fortunately, the Pacific Heights neighborhood, where our office is located, is safe and there are many great shopping and dining options one block away on Fillmore Street.  Our neighborhood is safe and there are great views of the Bay and Golden Gate bridge.  Also, some of the most beautiful homes in San Francisco are within a short walk of our office, so please explore.  It’s worth the experience.

For your safety and to limit your exposure to the unpleasant side of San Francisco, please avoid walking in areas South of Market Street, the Tenderloin neighborhood (just adjacent to the attractive Union Square area), Hunter’s Point, the Western Addition, and on market Street between 5th Street and 9th Street.  

Also, please be advised that travel distances in the Bay Area don’t correspond with your anticipated driving times.  A few miles can take eternity in traffic, so please use apps such as Waze, Apple Maps, or Google to predict how long your travel will take.

We hope that your experience in San Francisco is a good one.  Please don’t hesitate to check in with us and ask our advice.

Please don’t rent a car for travel in San Francisco or NYC

San Francisco and New York are exciting but congested cities. Driving and finding parking can be frustrating and anxiety provoking. And parking is expensive. Unless you are planning a trip outside of the city during your stay, please don’t plan to rent a car. Both cities have a great deal of traffic and there is always a tremendous amount of road work going on. You would be better off taking a car service such as Lyft or Uber. Yellow cabs are unreliable in San Francisco but are a good option in NYC. If you don’t have the apps for Uber or Lyft on your smart phone, please download them from your smart-phones App Store and enter your credit card information. Everyone in SF and NYC gets around by these cab services.

If you do rent a car for out of town excursions, please don’t leave anything exposed in your car! No luggage, purses, gym bags, sunglasses….. San Francisco and NYC, unfortunately, share the title as the “break my car window and grab my bag” capitals of north America. We don’t want you to be a victim.

How far have patients traveled to The Sternberg Clinic?  

Given Dr. Sternberg’s internationally recognized expertise in pilonidal surgery, it’s no surprise that 40% of his pilonidal patients have traveled to San Francisco from outside of California. This includes Nevada, Oregon, Washington State, the Mid-West, Texas, New York, Florida… Additionally, many patients have traveled from other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and the Asian cities of Tokyo, Qatar, UAE, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bejing, Canton, and Seoul. Dr. Sternberg welcomes patients from anywhere throughout the United States and abroad.

Patient Instructions and Forms

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

Patient Testimonials: The Blog

Read success stories from surgery patients


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.

Did Dr. Sternberg treat your pilonidal disease? Submit a Patient Testimonial

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