Pilonidal Sinus Surgery

This page will provide you with information about surgery for pilonidal sinus. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is pilonidal sinus and what causes it?

This problem forms in the natal cleft (the area between you buttocks). Bacteria carried by hair in the natal cleft (either from hair that has grown there, or that is loose and has collected there) can form an abscess, or a situation where the pus will drain through a sinus to the skin surface (see figure 1).

Figure 1
Pilonidal sinus
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Are there alternatives to a surgical procedure?

There are other forms of treatment for the problem, but they are not as dependable as surgery, as surgery completely removes the infected area, including the pilonidal sinus. If you suffer from occasional discharge, antibiotics may be recommended as a way to treat the infection. Sometimes it is a possibility to have a procedure where the abscess is drained. Washing the natal cleft regularly will stop further infections from occurring.

What happens during the procedure?

During the operation the surgeon will take out the sinus and the infected tissue. It will take about 30 minutes. It is carried out under general anaesthetic.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.

How long will I take to heal?

Undertaking regular exercise will help prepare for the procedure, and enable you to recover from it more quickly. Check with your consultant before starting an exercise regime. You should be able to return home after the operation, usually on the same day. You should be able to return to work after two to three weeks. Note that the pilonidal sinus can return.


This is a common problem in young adults. The condition can cause a continued discharge/ abscess. In most cases surgery is the best treatment for it.

References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this page is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.