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patient education : 14262--Pilonidal Cyst

Self-care information for after surgery for pilonidal cyst

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    Pilonidal cyst

    What to expect with recovery


    If general anesthesia is given, or if you are taking narcotic pain medication, you may feel “funny” for 2-3 days, have trouble with memory and feel more tired.  You should not drive, drink alcohol or make any big decisions for at least 2-3 days.


    • Eat what you feel like you can tolerate. 
    • Try to eat high-fiber foods to avoid constipation
    • Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. 


    • Patients usually take 2-3 weeks to return to normal activity.  Slowly increase your activity daily.  
    • Try to get up and walk around every hour while awake to prevent any blood clots from forming. 
    • If you are sexually active, you should be able to resume sexual activity in about 14 days... 

    Bowel movements:

    • Avoid straining with bowel movements by increasing fiber in your diet
    • Drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day. 
    • Daily exercise and walking will also help. 
    • You may take stool softeners (docusate sodium).  This is available “over-the-counter” at any Drug Store.


    • You will have pain and discomfort following surgery. 
    • Take your pain medication as directed by your surgeon.  Non-narcotic pain medicine such as NSAIDS (ibuprofen), is preferable and often controls the pain.  If you have a chronic kidney problem, please talk to your surgeon before taking ibuprofen.
    • Narcotic pain medicine may be given for severe pain. 

    Return to work or school:

    • You may return to work or school 3-4 weeks after surgery. 
    • You must avoid lifting anything over 10 lbs (full gallon milk jug) for the 1st week
    • Lift nothing over 20 lbs for the next 5 weeks.  If it hurts, don’t lift it.

    Wound care:

    • Always wash your hands before and after touching near your incision site. 
    • Take pain medication prior to dressing change.

    ¨ For an open incision: 

    • Shower or take a sitz bath (may soak in tub if sitz bath not available) twice a day starting the day after surgery. 
    • Remove the outer dressing, but leave packing in place. 
    • Once saturated with water, you may remove it and gently wash area around and inside with a clean wash cloth. 
    • You will need help repacking the wound because of the location and difficulty seeing area.  Moisten a gauze pad with water or normal saline and pack into wound with a finger or Q-tip. 
    • Cover with a dry gauze and tape into place. 
    • The incision will heal from the inside out.

    ¨ For a closed incision: 

    • The incision is closed with stitches or staples. 
    • Some patients will go home with a drain tube attached to a bulb to provide suction of excess fluid around the surgical area.  The drain remains in place until there is no more than 15 ml in a day for 3 consecutive days.  Drain removal will be done in a follow-up visit. 
    • You may shower 24 hours after surgery and change gauze around drain tube as needed, but at least daily.   You should avoid taking a bath, soaking in a hot tub, or swimming until your incision is completely healed and the staples or stitches have been removed.

    When to call your surgeon:

    • Begin running a fever greater than 101 degrees F
    • Increased or worsening pain at surgical site
    • Swelling, redness, bleeding or bad-smelling drainage from your incision
    • No bowel movement for 2-3 days



    This information is provided to educate you about your specific surgical procedures.  It does not replace of instructions given by your surgical team based on your specific needs.


    For more information please visit

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