After surgery

Pilonidal sinus surgery

Surgery is often the only way to treat the cause of a pilonidal sinus, and remove all the infected tissue. This is also called an excision.

Your recovery after surgery will be slightly different depending on the type of surgery you have had.

If you are not sure about your recovery, or have any questions, please speak to your medical team.

Leaving hospital

You might be able leave hospital on the same day as your surgery.

You will need someone to take you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours after surgery.

It is important that you rest for the day so you can recover from the general anaesthetic.

If you have had a Limberg flap reconstruction, you will need to stay in hospital for about 2 nights after your surgery.

Side effects after surgery

It is usual to have some discomfort after surgery. It can be quite painful for the first couple of days, and it might seem like the pain gets worse before it starts to feel more comfortable.

Overtime, the pain will ease. When you leave hospital, you might be given medicines to take home with you.


If you are given painkillers, always follow the instructions on the packet or leaflet that comes with the medicines. Never take more than the recommended amount (dose).

Contact your GP if you find the pain difficult to control.


If you have an infection, you might be given antibiotics to take after your surgery. Take them as instructed by your doctor or nurse, and always complete the full course.

Dressings after surgery

The dressing you have will depend on the type of surgery you had. If you have any questions about your wound, speak to your doctor or nurse.

Surgery with stitches

Your surgeon might use stitches to close your wound after removing the pilonidal sinus.

You will have a dressing over your wound, and sometimes a dressing inside your wound. This will need to be changed every day.

The stitches might dissolve by themselves, or need to be removed. Make sure you know if your stitches are dissolvable, your nurse can tell you if you are not sure.

If your stitches need to be removed, you need to contact your GP to make an appointment with the practice nurse. You will need an appointment to remove your stitches about 2 weeks after surgery.

Read more about stitches after surgery.

Surgery without stitches

Your surgeon might leave your wound open to heal by itself, with no stitches used.

You might have packing inside your wound, and a dressing over your wound. The dressing you have is called Aquacel®.

The dressing needs to be changed every day by the practice nurse at your GP surgery.

You will leave hospital with dressings to last you 3 days.

Your GP can get you a prescription for more dressings. This can take 6 to 8 weeks. Contact your GP to:

  • make an appointment with the practice nurse change your dressing daily
  • get a prescription for more dressings

Your nurse will explain this to you in more detail, and help you arrange care with your GP.

Limberg flap reconstruction

You will need to stay in hospital for about 2 nights after this type of surgery. This is because you will have a drain put in to remove any fluid from your wound. You can leave hospital once the drain has been taken out.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you if you need to have your dressing changed once you go home, and how often you will need it changing.

You will have a follow-up appointment 2 weeks after surgery. At this appointment, your stitches will be removed and your wound will be checked.

You will need to take at least 2 weeks off work until your follow-up appointment. During this time, it is important that you:

  • only lie down on your front and side, so that your wounds can heal
  • do not sit on your bottom for more than 10 minutes at a time

Looking after your wound

If you have stitches

Bathe the wound in a warm bath every day. Do not use soap, or put salt or any perfumed products in the water until your wound has healed. These can irritate the wound.

Do not be worried if you see some blood in the bath water, this is normal and will reduce in time.

You can time bathing your wound with changing your dressing. If your wound is dry and there is no discharge, you do not need to change the dressing.

Bathing your wound might also help with any pain.

If you have an open wound with internal packing

Try to keep the area dry. You will visit the practice nurse every day so they can change your dressing and check your wound.

The practice nurse will tell you when the packing can be removed. Once it has been removed, you can bathe the wound.

Contact your GP or call 111 if

  • there is bleeding from your wound that will not stop, even if pressure is put on your wound

Call 111 or go to your nearest A&E if

  • you feel generally unwell
  • you have a high temperature (fever)

Returning to work and activity

Most people take 7 to 10 days off work after surgery. This depends on how you feel, how active your job is, and the type of surgery you have had.

  • Do not lift anything heavy, exercise or run for the first week or so after surgery. Do as much as you feel you can. 
  • Do not go swimming until your wound has healed.
  • Do not ride a bicycle for 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery.

Follow-up appointment

A pilonidal sinus can return, so it is important that you go to your follow-up appointment. This will be 2 to 4 weeks after your surgery.

At this appointment, your surgeon will check your wound and give you more information on stopping the pilonidal sinus from coming back.

If you have not heard about your follow-up appointment within 2 weeks of surgery, contact the GI surgical access centre.

Resource number: 1671/VER5
Last reviewed: April 2022
Next review: July 2024

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Contact us

If you have not heard about your follow-up appointment within 2 weeks of your operation, please call the GI surgical access centre.

Phone: 020 7188 8875

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Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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