Hairs can grow in your natal cleft, or loose hairs can fall and collect in your natal cleft.

If you have small pits (dimples) in your skin, movement of your buttock muscles can allow the hairs to get underneath your skin. Hairs carry bacteria, which can cause inflammation and infection. An abscess (collection of pus surrounded by a wall of tissue) can form or the pus can drain through a tunnel (sinus) out to your skin.

If conservative treatment for your pilonidal sinus is unsuccessful your consultant may recommend surgery.

What happens during pilonidal sinus surgery?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 30 minutes.

You may also have injections of local anaesthetic to help with the pain after the operation. You may be given antibiotics during the operation to reduce the risk of infection.

Your surgeon will remove the sinus and infected tissue, sometimes over a large area. They may close your wound with stitches or leave it open to fully heal. If your wound is left open they will pack it with sterile dressing. This allows the wound to heal from the base upwards so that it is less likely to become infected.

You will be taken to a recovery area where our healthcare team will monitor you and provide you will pain relief medication.

You may be able to go home the same day as you surgery. In some cases your consultant may recommend an overnight stay in hospital.

Going home after pilonidal surgery

You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to take you home.

Our healthcare team will advise you on how to care for your wound. Follow their instructions carefully to prevent further infection. Continue to take any pain relief medication as prescribed.

To prevent any risk of blood clots you may need to take medication or wear compression stockings.

Discuss any return to work and strenuous activity with your surgeon.

If your wound was left open, you may need to return to hospital regularly to have the packing changed. It can take eight weeks or longer for your wound to completely heal.

As with any surgical procedure there could be complications including:

Specific complications of pilonidal sinus surgery may include:

  • Break down of a wound that is stitched
  • Slow healing
  • Numbness around your wound
  • Pilonidal sinus reoccurs.