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 is slightly different depending on what type of surgery you had. If you have any questions about how you will recover, please speak to your medical team.

Leaving hospital

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

You 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 to recover from the general anaesthetic.

If you 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 common to have some discomfort after surgery. The affected area can be quite painful for the first couple of days. It might seem like the pain gets worse before you start to feel more comfortable.

With time, the pain eases. When you leave hospital, we might give you medicines to take home with you.

Painkillers

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

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

Antibiotics

If you have an infection, we might give you antibiotics to take after your surgery. Your doctor or nurse explains how to take them. Always complete the full course (take the antibiotics regularly as instructed until you have finished them all).

Contact your GP or call 111 if

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

Call 111 or go to your nearest A&E if

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

Dressings after surgery

The dressing on your wound depends on what 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 have a dressing over your wound and sometimes a dressing inside the wound. This needs to be changed every day.

The stitches might dissolve by themselves or need to be removed. It is important to know if your stitches are dissolvable. Your nurse can tell you if you are not sure.

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

Surgery without stitches

Your surgeon might leave your wound open to heal by itself, without using any stitches.

You might have packing (material to soak up any drainage) inside your wound and a dressing over the wound. The dressing that you have is called Aquacel®.

The practice nurse at your GP surgery needs to change the dressing every day.

You leave hospital with dressings to last for 3 days. Your GP can give you a prescription for more dressings. An open wound can take about 6 to 8 weeks to heal. 

Contact your GP to:

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

Your nurse explains this to you in more detail and helps you to arrange care with your GP.

Limberg flap reconstruction

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

Your doctor or nurse explains if, and how often, you need to have your dressing changed when you go home.

You have a follow-up appointment 2 weeks after surgery. At this appointment, we remove your stitches and check your wound.

You 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 wound 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. This can irritate the wound.

Do not be worried if you see some blood in the bath water. This is common and reduces with time.

You can bathe your wound and change your dressing at the same time. If your wound is dry and there is no discharge (fluid coming from the wound), 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 need to visit the practice nurse at your GP surgery every day. They change your dressing and check the wound.

The practice nurse tells you when the packing can be removed. When it has been removed, you can bathe the wound.

Returning to work and activity

Most people take 7 to 10 days off work after surgery. This depends on:

  • how you feel
  • if you have an active job
  • the type of surgery you had

You can do as much as you feel that you can manage after surgery. However, it is important to avoid heavy activities until your body has a chance to recover.

Don't

  • do not lift anything heavy, exercise or run for the first week or so after surgery
  • 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

You have a follow-up appointment 2 to 4 weeks after your surgery. It is important to go to this appointment because a pilonidal sinus can return.

At the follow-up appointment, your surgeon checks your wound. They also give you more information on how to prevent the pilonidal sinus from returning.

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 any questions or concerns, please call the gastrointestinal (GI) surgical access centre.

Phone: 020 7188 8875, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

If you have not heard about your follow-up appointment within 2 weeks of your surgery, please call us.

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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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